Category Archives: Christian family

George W. Bush struggled with alcoholism

George W. Bush will be remembered as the president who declared war on terror after the Twin Towers were blown up by Osama bin Laden’s airline-hijacking henchmen.

But a new PBS documentary reveals the early years in which the future 43rd president drank excessively and could only conquer alcoholism by turning to God, according to People magazine.

“He transitioned from a church-goer to a Christ-follower,” Bush’s childhood friend Charlie Younger says in American Experience. “He wanted to emulate the tenets and teachings of Jesus Christ, and he made a definite transformation there.”

It may seem difficult to believe that before ascending to the presidency, his life before age 40 was rocky.

After six years in the Texas Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Bush leveraged his family’s influence and finances to launch Arbusto Energy in 1977, an oil and gas exploration firm.

But he felt immense pressure to make “a big strike” and began to stagger under repeated failures, which stood in contrast to his father, who became vice-president of the United States under Ronald Reagan in 1981.

“I’m all name and no money,” Bush said at the time, according to the New York Times. Hit by a fall in oil prices, Bush sold his energy exploration company to Harken Energy in 1986.

“I think his friends and family, when he was nearly 40 years old, were worried about what he was going to do with his life,” Michael Gerson, Bush’s former chief speechwriter, said. “He drank too much and he had very little direction.”

On his 40th birthday, the crisis came to a head.

“He woke up hung-over. He had overdone it the night before and he didn’t feel good. I think Laura (his wife) told him that he could’ve behaved better,” Younger says. “He just said, ‘I don’t need this in my life. It’s robbing me of my energy. It’s taking too much of my time.’”

At the suggestions of friends, Bush began to attend a community Bible study, a weekly session similar to a “scriptural boot camp.” He’d reportedly met with preacher Billy Graham during the previous year, who encouraged him to deepen his relationship with God. Read the rest: George W. Bush saved from alcohol.

Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world

caleb katlenbachThe ugliest thing Caleb Kaltenbach saw through a childhood of being taken to gay pride marches and wild parties was…. Christians holding up signs saying “God hates you.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he said at the time. But Caleb came to Christ in high school, became a pastor afterwards and started a church that doesn’t compromise on truth while still extending love to those with “messy” lives.

His incredible journey from Christian-hater to loving Christian is more than just one man’s testimony. It is a shining light on the path for the church re-calibrating its message, as the world grows more worldly, to wooing sinners instead of saying “Woe!” to sinners.

When Caleb was only two years old, both his mom and dad divorced and “came out of the closet at the same time,” he says on an Outreach video. “My whole life I was raised by two lesbians and a gay man.”

caleb katlenbach and wifeHis dad was professor of philosophy, law and rhetoric at the University of Missouri, Columbia, while his mom was a professor of English at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

“My whole life I was raised in the gay and lesbian community,” he says. “My parents didn’t want to get baby sitters, so they basically took me to parties when I was 4, 6, 7 years old. I went to camp outs, clubs and gay pride parades.

“I hated Christians,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with Christians.”

At the end of a gay pride parade, he was met by Christians with placards that said “God hates you” and “Turn or burn.”

They were spraying water and urine on everybody.

Caleb, who was a young and impressionable 9 years old, turned to Mom and asked why they were doing this.

CTz9RlFUsAACsqX“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she replied. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he replied.

His next memory was when he was a teen, accompanying Mom to her parties. His custom was to find a room to play video games, Duck Hunt or Kung Fu (in the days of primitive video games — Atari, etc).

Louis, a well-built 30-year-old, befriended him at these parties.

Years later at the doctor, Caleb saw Louis, who had was emaciated and had strange markings on his forehead. Caleb asked what was wrong.

“Caleb, I have AIDS, and I’m getting read to die,” Louis responded.

Visiting him “a shell of the man he used to be” in the hospital just days before Louis died, Caleb witnessed a “horrifying sight.” As Louis shivered uncontrollably cold under nine blankets, his family watched unfeelingly from across the room.

“Plastered against the wall with their big ol’ KJV bibles out and looking like they expected a firing squad to come at them” was the compassionless immediate family. When he asked for water, they made sure to give him some without touching him.

“Why are they acting like that?” he asked his mom.

“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she responded. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” Caleb said again. Read the rest: Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world.

‘Ghost mode’ for street hood turned pastor/rapper

Thirteen-year-old Markell Taylor wanted to be just like his stepdad, who was a pimp, a rapper, a womanizer and a drunk.

“I idolized him,” Markell says. “People thought he was cool. My own father was not in the picture and my mom was in and out of prison. He was the one male figure in my life. He had money, so he would buy expensive cars and expensive clothes. He would buy them for me. You’re a little kid and you’re getting hooked up. I thought he had something going on.”

In response to this role modeling, Markell became a runner for a drug dealer. He dropped out of school. He used methamphetamines and he took advantage of girls. “I had all these insecurities because I was hurting and lonely and I didn’t know why I wasn’t worth it for my real dad to stick around,” he said. “But I put on a mask of confidence to get in girls’ pants.”

From middle school onward, Markell was the life of the party. He had the drugs, so he got it started.

But while he was admired for his swagger and brazenness, his future began to dim. He variously lived with his stepdad in Wendover, Nevada, his grandmother in Las Vegas — and homeless shelters. He was arrested for domestic violence against his mother and police were investigating crimes he had participated in.

“I was out of control,” he recalls. “One time I told my mom I was going to kill the guy who sold me some bad drugs. I wasn’t really going to do it, but I acted like it. She tried to take me to the police, but I jumped out of the car while she was driving.”

At age 14, his mom and stepdad wanted to escape their reputation at Wendover and move to Salt Lake City to get a fresh start in life. Markell didn’t last one day there without his arrest.

Again it was a case of domestic violence. He hit his mom with a pillow, he says, and she freaked out and called the cops. When the police handcuffed him, they asked if there was a gun. Markell stood up to show them his arm, but the police thought he was going to attempt a fight, so they tackled him again.

The cops hauled him off to jail.

“As soon as I got into the back of the patrol car, I started crying like a little baby,” Markell says. “Up until then, I had pretty much gotten away with everything I did.” Read the rest of Markell Taylor, street hood pastor rap artist.

He didn’t bother with ‘unknowables’ like God… until he turned 50

Paul ErnstPaul Ernst was a natural tinkerer who based his outlook on life on the material world that could be seen, quantified and studied.

“I liked knowing how things worked,” Paul says in a CBN video. “I wanted to drill down to the basis of something where it was, you know, like taking apart an alarm clock or later a motorcycle or a car engine.”

Attracted to sciences, he graduated from college with a degree in chemistry. He didn’t bother much with the notion of God because if he existed, he couldn’t be documented by scientific means.

“Even though I might think about where the universe came from, ‘Where there’s a God,’ ‘Is there life after death?’ I pushed those into unknowables.

Paul and Mary Ersnt“The picture I had of Christians is that since they weren’t in science, they were in another realm that was unknowable, and some of it actually looked kind of silly to me and I just wasn’t interested in that.”

He stayed the course of scientific atheism through his 40s, but when he turned 50, a nagging sense of his mortality began to irritate him.

“I had a fear of dying,” Paul says. “I didn’t want to go into oblivion or even, or worse yet, into some kind of judgment.”

A friend, Tom Anderson, composed a paper called “A Lawyer Gives a Defense of the Divinity of Christ.” After reading it, Paul realized it made a lot of sense.

“I knew if this is true, this changes everything. This is huge. So I could immediately tell that this was something big that needed to be pursued,” he says. “But the bigger part of the picture is this individual had a roadmap for connecting the dots to where I, for the first time, saw the possibility of knowing whether it was true or not. And I thought ‘I’m not going to live forever; maybe I’d better look into these things and settle them.’” Read the rest: skeptical intellectual, at 50, decided to study more thoroughly the God he had dismissed as ‘unknowable’ when he was younger.

A pastor who’s a politician? Rob McCoy flouted Calvary Chapel. Then he defied the governor of California

Rob McCoy and familyFor 20 years, Rob McCoy preached in his pulpit and never faced persecution, but when he ventured into politics, he got death threats, received hate mail and was stalked by menacing figures.

“I got beat up,” says McCoy, former mayor of Thousand Oaks in California. “It was the hardest thing I ever did.”

A pastor who’s a politician???

“I want to dispel the myth that Christians don’t belong in politics,” says McCoy, 55, who is at the center of a national maelstrom by holding services in violation of California’s rules closing churches.

Rob McCoy, political firebrand, man of compassion“You don’t have the right to shut down churches and let Marxists run amok in our cities,” McCoy said in the Citizens Journal.

McCoy was referring to recent massive protests and riots of Black Lives Matter and Antifa where vandalism and looting were widespread and hundreds of thousands of bodies huddled together on the street with basically no social distancing nor face masks mandated to stop the spread of Covid. The same liberal politicians who encourage the protests and made no mention of the dangers of Covid are the ones closing churches in California, New York, Chicago and Minnesota.

If protesters aren’t required to stay home due to Covid, why are church members? The current slew of governing leaders have deemed church “non-essential,” while marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and the like are doing a thriving business.

Rob McCoy pastor of Calvary Chapel Thousand OaksThe U.S. Supreme Court just handed down July 24th a discouraging 5-4 ruling for Nevada churches that have been facing suffocating restrictions while casinos are relatively free to return to business.

“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the dissenting opinion. “It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine or to engage in any other game of chance. A public health emergency does not give governors and other public officials carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists.”

The son of a Navy captain, Rob McCoy grew up in Coronado, California, doing all things associated with water: swimming, surfing, scuba and water polo.

An English teacher in public high school invited him to a home Bible study, where he heard about Jesus for the first time, but it was a swim coach who led him to the Lord.

On a swim scholarship, McCoy attended California State University at Fresno where he got a bachelor’s degree in history in 1987. It was during college that he and his roommate co-committed to following Christ more diligently.

Rob McCoy pastor politicianHe was engaged to someone else when he met his wife. Because his girlfriend got pregnant, his college group pastor suggested they expedite marriage. This brought a crisis with his parents because the girl was Hispanic.

“You give birth to that child, and I’ll kick you out of this house,” his father told him.

Kicked out and trying to pick up the pieces of his life, McCoy went to a Christian concert with his fiancé at Hume Lake.

On the way back from the concert, something shocking happened. His fiancé took off the engagement ring and confessed she’d slept with the campus pastor, a married man. McCoy waited until birth to do a paternity test, which confirmed it was the pastor’s child.

All throughout McCoy’s ups and downs “in the midst my sin and God’s grace,” Mederies (she goes by Michelle) Fowler remained a friend to him and encouraged him to do the right thing, McCoy says. After the engagement was officially called off, he grew closer to Michelle and the two eventually married.

Rob-McCoyIn an unusual coincidence, Michelle’s grandmother — also married to a Navy man, Admiral Richard Fowler — had hosted the baby shower and donated the crib towards little Rob McCoy years earlier. His parents were pleased with Michelle.

Today, McCoy calls these high and lows his higher education in the “school of hard knocks.” The couple has four natural born children — Molly, Kelly, Daniel and Michael — and one adopted daughter, Natasha.

Nowadays, McCoy is a a conservative Republican opposed to abortion, but when he was in high school and his then-girlfriend warned him she’d missed her period, he urged abortion as the quick and easy means to elude responsibility.

As the days passed, however, it turned out his girlfriend wasn’t pregnant after all. When McCoy was married in 1990 to Michelle, his wife miscarried and he wept over the dead baby. (The miscarriage almost killed his wife due to hemorrhaging, he adds.)

The loss of his first child provided a time for for reflection.

What’s the difference between the child that you wanted to get rid of and the one now that you are weeping over? God impressed on his heart.

“The difference was convenience,” McCoy surmises grimly. “I didn’t want to get beat up by her dad. The child was just a commodity. It was all about me.”

By contrast, the miscarried child filled his heart with love. “It was at that moment that I loved somebody more than myself. I came face to face with ‘What is responsibility? What is life?’” he says. “I was just empty and cold until I came to Christ.”

If once he treasured only himself, McCoy now values people. He’s always hosted people in his house, missionaries, refugees and even the wayward sons of well-known U.S. congressmen. All receive the love of Christ and the chance for discipleship. Right now, he’s hosting Colombians.

During college he got to know and admired the Calvary Chapel movement, so he joined the Redlands church where Don McClure was pastor. Eventually he followed McClure to San Jose to help with the work there and was ordained. In 2001, he was offered the pastorate the Thousand Oaks Calvary Chapel, one the oldest but was declining in numbers, he says. Today they have 1,400 in attendance.

He was riding on a wave or revival. Calvary Chapel was founded by Chuck Smith in 1968 on a simple principle: teach the whole Word to young people disaffected by the turbulence of the 1960s – and be led by the Spirit.

“Chuck decided to be apolitical because all these kids were disillusioned with politics, and began teaching the Bible. The nation was in turmoil with all these kids checked out of the church and had gone after Eastern religions and gone after every kind of drug imaginable,” McCoy said at Liberty.

“It was an amazing move of God upon the state of California. But we were apolitical.”

In fact, staying out of politics was practically a major tenet of their doctrine.

So how, then, did McCoy break with his church’s doctrine and “sully” himself in “dirty politics.”

Two things happened. One was a couple of key people encouraged him to impact society through politics because of his grip on history. They were on a trip to Israel.

The second was the deterioration of conditions in California. “With 10,000% growth in Calvary Chapels and being apolitical, what was the result?” he asked.

The gospel is supposed to transform culture. How have we impacted the State of California being apolitical? he wondered.

California had slipped from 5th largest GDP to 6th or 7th. It aborted more babies than there are people in Canada. It led the drive for no-fault divorce that decimated homes in America. It was a leader in anti-family values and in poverty levels, in taxes and in debt, he says.

McCoy launched his foray into politics with an unsuccessful bid for the California assembly. The state’s Republican party poured $1 million into his opponent’s campaign in the primary because they didn’t want an old white man, McCoy says. He still won.

The Republicans endorsed him but only on the condition he let an outsider wunderkind run his campaign. The guy was a brilliant kid from UC Berkeley but wasn’t saved. No matter. Within days, McCoy’s supporters had evangelized him and turned him into a believer.

He almost won the seat, but the Democrats flooded the obscure assembly seat with $6 million in funding, and he lost by 4,000 votes.

It was a bruising defeat. He discovered politics is dirty and his opponents were vicious. He had worked tirelessly and had suffered threats, hate mail and intimidation tactics. “I never suffered the kind of persecution the Bible talks about until I went into politics,” he says.

He was exhausted. But then somebody suggested he run for the seat on the Thousand Oaks City council that his opponent vacated to run against him for Assembly. He reluctantly relented. After 150 coffees and 650 volunteers canvassing neighborhoods, he won by a mere 52 votes, he says.

Eventually, he became mayor.

It was McCoy who helped stop the Assembly bill that would have outlawed “conversion therapy” for minors that many feared would slash the throat of the church’s use of the Bible. McCoy simply invited the bill’s sponsor, California Assemblyman Evan Low, to visit his church and meet his diverse staff and listen to their concerns that the bill violated the First Amendment. Read the rest: Christians in politics, Rob McCoy defied Governor’s closure of churches.

Noted artist battled leukemia, saved marriage

vera kirkpatrick cancer“You have two weeks to live.”

Those were not the words that Hawaii-based artist Vera Kirkpatrick expected to hear after a routine blood test with her doctor. She worked out twice a day and kept herself in peak health.

All of sudden, she needed her husband, a man she had grown distant from in her self-sufficiency.

Looking back, Vera had grown up in an impoverished, fatherless home. “There were six kids. We had nothing,” Vera says in a CBN video. “So my whole idea was, ‘If I’m successful and I have finances then people won’t look at me as a poor orphan. They will see my success.’”

vera and john kirkpatrickCreating and selling in-vogue art pieces brought her fame and finances. She married, had three kids and moved to Hawaii where she and her husband, John, ran two art galleries. Vera had all the pieces of success.

But she felt John, who adored her, was too controlling, and she contemplated leaving him.

“I wanted to create my own rules, my own world,” she says. “John ended up putting me on a pedestal, and that was good for a while but then I got tired of that. I didn’t want to be molded and shaped. I’m the powerful person. Not ‘we’ but ‘me.’”

But the mulling of separation got cut short abruptly in 2009 when Vera, after skipping doctor’s checks for six years, finally went in for a physical and the doctor ran a standard blood test. He found leukemia.

“What’s Leukemia?” Vera asked when he broke the news. “Wait, is that a cancer?”

“Yes,” he responded. Then he delivered awful news: “What’s worse, I think you have about two weeks to live.”

Oncologist Anthony DeSalvo confirmed the grim prognosis.

vera kirkpatrick“Acute Leukemia, in the absence of urgent treatment, is rapidly fatal,” he says. “It is typically within weeks without treatment you will die.”

Vera turned to the God she knew only superficially.

“Okay God, I’m at a crossroads here. Are you real? Can I call on you?” she prayed frantically. “Are you able? All these stories and all these things were they for real my whole life? Are you mad at me? Will you even listen to me now?”

Her self-made world crumbled. She had achieved success all by herself, and she was proud of it. But with cancer circling, she realized her self-sufficiency was utterly meaningless.

“I’ve been doing everything on my own terms,” she mused.

“I reached out for a life saver and that was God,” Vera remembers. “I went back to my roots, because I wasn’t going to save myself. And you can put your trust in medicine, but the ultimate healing is going to have to be God.” Read the rest: Vera Kirkpatrick Christian artist.

She was becoming too Westernized, so her Muslim parents married her off back in Pakistan

Muslims in EnglandBorn in a strict Shia Muslim Pakistani family in South London, Rayeesa was becoming too westernized, too worldly, according to her family, because she wanted to… play tennis.

Yes, that’s right. She wanted to play tennis. Compete, to be more exact. And that was wholly inappropriate for a proper Muslim girl, she was told. So her parents sent her and her sister back to Pakistan and married them off to Muslim men.

“We loved tennis. And I wanted to enter competitions,” Rayeesa said in a CBN video. “They wouldn’t allow that because it was not respectable for a Muslim girl. My parents told me and my sister, ‘You are going to in Pakistan and we are going to find you suitable husbands.’ I had never ever thought that would happen to me. It actually made me feel completely alone.”

Shia muslims in EnglandOne night Rayeesa and her sister tried to escape. In their flight, they tried to enlist the assistance of some guards. But when the guards tried to get “overly friendly” with them, they resisted their advances. Giving up, the guards instead forced them to return home.

Rayeesa was married against her will in accordance with Muslim practices to an Indian man she didn’t even know.

The good news is that he didn’t really love her and only wanted to use her as a means to get to England himself. He sent Rayeesa to England with the plan that she would arrange his paperwork to immigrate later.

westernized muslimsShe never did.

Instead, she joined the police force.

In was on the force that she met a colleague with a deep and vibrant relationship with Christ. Rayeesa had read the Bible and the Koran but didn’t know which to believe. But her friend, Anna, had a recognizable glow missing from Rayeesa’s life.

“What’s so special about Jesus? Just tell me,” Rayeesa asked her one day. “Why do you love Jesus so much?”

Anna wore down Rayeesa’s skepticism.

“I thought that was the most crazy thing. She told me who God was. That was so different to what I had been taught,” Rayeesa recalls. “I was taught that Jesus was a prophet and He was like Mohammed. But hearing Anna’s explanation of how Jesus was actually God in human form coming and then giving his life and dying so that we could have a relationship with God.”

Rayeesa mulled the presentation. What if it is true? What if Jesus really is God? I am believing in Mohammed and Allah, but what if it is not the truth?

Rayeesa committed to the quest of unearthing the truth.

From that point onwards, she was determined to find the truth about God. Who is God? she wondered.

Finally, she got down on her knees and prayed: “Jesus if you are real, if you are who you say you are then I hear your voice that you are knocking on the door. I open my heart and I want you to come in.”

Then God answered her prayer in a remarkable way. “Suddenly the minute I said that it just felt like I was flooded with love. It was an instant feeling of being washed and accepted and I knew then that this Jesus is real,” she recounts. “Worry and fear and everything was just washed away by this love and I felt complete. Read the rest: Westernized Muslims in England.

Covid’s silver lining: sex workers freed in India

project rescue imageWhile Covid-19 has killed myriads, shut down economies and closed churches around the world, the deadly virus has liberated thousands of exploited sex workers in India, according to a report from Project Rescue.

“What Project Rescue hasn’t been able to do in 24 years of giving itself to rescuing and restoring the lives of thousands of women and their children, this virus has shut down the Red Light Districts in India,” says founder David Grant. “God has given us an opportunity to reach out to these women that we’ve never seen in all these years. In 50 years of being involved in missions, this is the greatest moment we have ever experienced.”

human trafficking indiaBecause of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s particularly drastic quarantine, there are no businesses open, no transit, and no industry. With the streets virtually deserted, brothels have no customers and human traffickers are simply releasing their prey rather than have to feed them without them generating any income, Grant says.

“This is the greatest miracle in Project Rescue’s entire history,” he adds.

Other nonprofits report a spike in human enslavement in other parts of the world, as governments repurpose resources usually dedicated to fight traffickers. Perhaps what Project Rescue is reporting is unique to India where stringent restrictions were put in place.

grants

David and Beth Grant

“In the middle of unimaginable crisis comes unprecedented opportunity,” says Rod Loy, director of strategic initiatives. “For the first time in our life time, sex trafficking is shut down. No one is visiting the Red Light District, customers are non-existent, demand is at an all time low. Traffickers are losing money.

“As a result, traffickers are giving women permission to leave and take their children with them,” Rod adds. “In the years of Project Rescue, this has only been a dream. It’s never happened. What the enemy intended for evil, God is using for good. These are the most exciting days in the history of Project Rescue.”

Many of the women who find themselves trapped in the brothel were either kidnapped or sold into the trade. In some cases, they are chained with actual shackles. But often those chains are financial. The women know no other way to make a living for themselves and their children, Rod says.

“We need to be ready to seize the moment of what He wants us to do in the middle of the storm,” Executive Director Beth Grant says.

Project Rescue is issuing a plea for financing to help released sex slaves return to their hometowns to find food. Project Rescue will feed and provide vocational training so that when Covid dies away the sex workers will have a practical alternative to make money other than the life they have lived for years.

The nonprofit deploys 422 international staff and 226 national staff to rescue and restore youth who have been coerced or enticed into a living they now feel trapped by, its website says.

Pastor Rajneesh of Jaipur reports 300 women and children rescued from such slavery, so the urgency to meet their need is great or “they’ll be forced to return the Red Light districts so they’re children won’t die,” Rod says. “The window of opportunity is short.” Read the rest: Sex workers freed in India due to Covid.

Out of trauma, out of fears

Demetrius FearsHer mother was scolding Demetrius Fears because the 4th grader was STARTING homework at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Then just outside, gunfire erupted.

“Stop! No!” her Uncle Robert shouted, and then they heard a loud pop, pop, pop.

Robert staggered into the house with blood streaming down his face and body.

“When everything happened, I froze. I didn’t know what to do. Everything happened in slow motion,” says Dee, 22.

overcoming fearsDee’s grandma, Yvonne, wasn’t too strong in the Lord at that time. But the Holy Spirit kicked in and she began praying and prophesying that Uncle Robert would live. “She spoke life over him in the name of Jesus,” Dee says.

Their prayers were answered and Uncle Robert survived the shooting.

Dee is named after her father, who died from gunshots weeks before she was born.

After the incident, Dee decided to stay home as much as possible. Because she was always at home, everybody took advantage of her baby-sitting services. She loved babies.

In community college, Dee started attending church and also studied child development. At church, she developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and was born again.

“As I began to do what God wanted me to do and follow His plan for my life, I saw a lot of doors open for opportunities and to be in child ministry,” she says.

She got a job at Starbucks and then added a part-time position at a Christian infant care in Santa Monica.

As time went on, she wondered why she was even bothering with coffee, which she doesn’t like, and not working full-time with babies, which she loves. She offered to her boss, Anita, to go full-time at the Lighthouse Center for Infants.

“She started crying tears of joy,” Dee says. The Infant Care badly needed qualified workers. “She told me I was an answer to prayer.”

“Whoa,” Dee thought in response. “I never thought I could be somebody’s answer to prayer.”

Dee has gained new friendship and developed her classroom learning about child development in real life practice.

One day in church, a sister prophesied that she would overcome her insecurities, which stem from not having a father. During the initial stages of the Coronavirus lockdown, she began to feel unloved.

“I began feeling worthless, like I was useless in every way possible, like I wasn’t worth it, like nobody wants you here,” Dee remembers. “The thoughts were so loud that I began believing they were true.” Read the rest: overcoming trauma and fears.

Either the booze or the marriage

mary linkaErik and Mary Lanka worked hard and partied hard until alcohol became a nightmare. Then Mary delivered an ultimatum: Either me or the booze.

“This is a long road down a big black hole,” Mary says on a CBN video. “We were acting like college students in parent bodies. You can’t just keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

As a young coupled married in 1998, Erik and Mary had ambitions. He was a real estate developer and she was a creative director in real estate and an artist.

“We knew that together we could make a lot of money and do a lot of great things,” Mary recounts.

“We worked really hard,” Erik says. “Mary was drinking then. I was drinking then. All of our friends were drinking then.”

one more drinkTheir firstborn son, Zach, arrived soon. “I didn’t have time for him,” Mary says. “I was too busy.”

With dreams of retiring young, Erik invested their wealth into a huge condominium project in 2002. But the remodeling was stymied by city officials and family members.

“Therefore, I started to drink more,” he recalls.

The next year, their second son, Joshua, was born. At the same time, the real estate market crashed and he couldn’t rent units for two years. The bank began to foreclose.

“I was seeing the writing on the wall,” Erik says. “I started to literally drink myself to sleep every night.”

“He went from being this jovial social drinker to someone who would pass out at five o’clock,” Mary remembers. “I couldn’t rouse him. We were having arguments that he wouldn’t even remember the next day.”

For her part, Mary stopped drinking. “I began to hate him for checking out,” she admits. “I began thinking, ‘This isn’t what I signed up for.’”

When he drove drunk with the kids in the car, she gave him the ultimatum: “She had to take me aside and say, ‘It’s either your booze or us,’” Erik remembers.

“That’s when I had an epiphany,” he says. “This social crutch had turned into a gotta-have-it-in-the-morning addiction.” Read the rest: booze or marriage.

‘I was shaking like a leaf’ Hispanic gangster had never felt God’s power before

angel frias in yosemiteLeft with the baby sitter, 4-year-old Angel Frias, one of nine siblings, was approached by a blonde woman who led him in a sinner’s prayer. She looked bright, almost angelic.

“I felt so protected,” he remembers. “I felt like there was a shield around me when I was a little boy.”

But by junior high, “Angel” stopped being an angel. He followed his older brothers into a Hispanic gang in Culver City, California.

angel frias fishing“That’s when I got into more of mess. I became a problem to society and not a solution.”

He fell into drugs, alcohol, rage and revenge.

“I had so much anger in my life that if I dropped a pen, I started kicking in doors. I started turning over tables. I started to cuss. If you looked at me the wrong way, the fight was on.”

God saved him from the worst scrapes and kept sending messengers to evangelize.

“When I had a can of beer on me or I was loaded, there was always a servant of the Lord that God would send into the Culver City projects to preach the Gospel and I would hear it,” he says. “They kept coming and they kept coming. There was one time this guy said, ‘God has a better plan for your life.’ I listened to his words, but I kept on the same road of destruction.”

He was in and out of county jail. He had guns pointed at his head, but the guns jammed.

“When my brother was there, he said, ‘That was God,’” Angel remembers. “But we were still in our mess.”

He spent three years in prison, only to return to more drugs and alcohol. He returned to prison for four years and four months. He never turned to God.

“I was the worst of the worst. I was down to 90 lbs.,” he says. “My medium shirts felt like they were extra larges on me.”

Finally, he committed an offense that could lock him up for 25 years to life.

Again, he listened to the preachers in the projects.

“God loves you so much,” the preacher said. “He doesn’t want this for your life. He has more for you.”

His sisters were praying for him. Finally he broke down.

“I fell to my knees and said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Here’s my life,’” he recalls. “I’m totally out of it. I don’t know what to do. I’ve heard about you. I need you to take over because I am out of control.”

For years he mocked people who were healed and fell under the power of the Spirit on Christian television programming.

But when he finally broke before God, he decided to go to church.

“As this preacher’s preaching, my body starts to shake. It felt like something wanted to come out it,” he says. He went up to the altar.

“I was shaking like a leaf. My eyes were blinking like 90 mph,” he says. “I was out of control. I knew God was in control. I surrendered. I opened up my arms and said, ‘Here’s my life. Do what you want with it.’ The guy was about to pray for me, but before he can touch me, I fell back and could not get up. My waist down to my legs, I could not move.” Read the rest: Culver City Hispanic gangster had never felt slain the Spirit before.

MAGAhulk all over #OpenCalifornia rallies is a Christian

magahulkThe MAGAhulk who erupted on social media after appearing at #OpenCalifornia rallies all over the state is a Christian who walked away from God after his mom died of cancer when he was 17.

“I completely turned my back on God after being raised in a strict Christian home,” says Stephen Davis, 35. “I was like, ‘Why, God, why? You know how much I need my mom.”

He fell into the party scene and dropped out of college after the first year. “I always knew there was a God. I just didn’t want to have anything to do with him.”

stephen davis magahulkBut at age 25, a series of “eye-opening miracles” eventually brought him back to Jesus — things like financial miracles. He found himself in a church service thinking, “I was too far gone to come back. God didn’t want me anymore.”

But the service seemed entirely centered around him with a message of hope that he could find forgiveness and begin serving Christ again.

“It hit me that He wanted me back,” Stephen says.

Stephen’s handle on Instagram is @realtalkperiod, but he’s been dubbed the MAGAhulk after he began showing up at rallies protesting what many view as senselessly prolonged shutdown of California’s economy.

go ahead knock my cap offAt 6’4” and 335 pounds of lean muscle mass, he carries a commanding presence, dressed in a dark blue 45 T-shirt and MAGA cap with a Trump flag and American flag slung over his shoulder.

People are drawn to him and begin to talk to him and he jovially but forcefully talks about the need of Governor Newsom to loosen lockdown restrictions and the blowback he’s gotten from the Left after he “came out” as a Trump supporter. A popular meme showing him in Trump cap saying “Go ahead bro, knock my cap off” taunts liberals, but Stephen is amiable and non-threatening.

“I used to hate Trump, but I didn’t know why,” he confides. “I was told he was a racist. I was told he was a horrible person. I believed all the media’s lies. But then I started to have doubts because in the 90s, all these prominent black leaders and rappers loved Trump. They wanted to be with Trump and be like Trump. I was a little confused. How is he now a racist?”

After being troubled by these considerations, Stephen decided he wouldn’t accept the standard story told by the Left and would conduct an inquiry for himself. What he found astounded him.

“I started to do my own research. I started reading his policies and what he stood for and how much he loved his country. I loved what he stood for. I asked, ‘Why is the media lying?’ He has American ideals.” Read the rest MAGAhulk at OpenCalifornia rallies.

She fought to get off welfare

church lady gets off welfareKarina Lahood never wanted welfare, but because she was afraid she would lose custody of her five boys when she suddenly became a single mom, she felt compelled to go on government support.

After two years of striving to overcome her circumstances, Karina worked and earned enough to pass the wage threshold and get off food stamps, Medicaid and all other government support.

Ironically, through her hard work, she was worse off than when she got free benefits. She had to continue to build her business to make it into the clear.

“They make it so easy to stay in that system,” Karina says. “Jesus said that the government would be on his shoulders. I didn’t want the government to support me. I said, ‘Jesus I need you to rescue me.’ It’s a generational system. God doesn’t want you to depend on the government. He wants you to depend on Him.”

karina lahoodMany Christians believe that Christ’s mandate to care for certain vulnerable segments of the population should be carried out by government. Others, including Karina, see government usurping God and the church in the role of charity. When it comes to social care, the government is notoriously inefficient, they say.

“The government gives you so many benefits. If you’re not motivated, you will be stuck in the system,” Karina says. “In any life crisis, we become paralyzed in the system, you go comatose, you become a frog in the kettle.”

Today, Karina Lahood is a proud business owner placing foreign students in caring homes where they can sleep, eat and practice English with an American family while they attend language school.

Her life has been a long lesson of learning to lean on Jesus. Anna Karina Elisabeth Wilson was born to a Swedish immigrant homemaker. Many years later she realized she had a Christian heritage in Sweden; he grandmother was a Pentecostal Christian with a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus.

Karina and her two sisters grew up playing on the “Tarzan swing” dad hooked up on the one-acre property in Arcadia, California. Dad was always busy running a taxicab business. Only later did Karina find out he was a functional alcoholic.

Gods provision for single momHer family only went to church occasionally and Karina wished it was more often, but when a half-sister came to live with them, Karina learned to smoke pot from her while in middle school. She excelled at swimming but without parental support, she dropped that and fell into rebellion.

“I was an emotional mess in high school,” she admits.

When representatives of the California Conservation Corps came to her high school, she got hooked on their logo: “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions and more,” she says. During the summer, she rode a Greyhound Bus to Angels Camp, California, where she worked environmental projects and responded to natural and man-made disasters.

The next year, she got her GED and joined a fire-fighting crew in the mountains. They cut fire lines, attended to fish and game hatcheries, tagged salmon, picked cones and dug fence holes in the Stanislaus National Forest.

“At night we partied and got drunk,” she says. “The state had night watchmen, but they didn’t really monitor anything.”

One friend drove drunk off a mountain road and died.

Sin demanded more and more of her attention. She had two abortions.

Going from job to job, neighborhood to neighborhood, relationship to relationship, Karina finally was invited to live in a Christian home with a the pastor and his wife and their six children.

“I couldn’t understand how someone with six kids wanted to have someone else live with them,” she remembers.

The pastor’s wife was very patient and loving and slowly brought her to Christ. In 1994, she married and started her own family. It was a picture perfect family with a house and a dog, but it was not to last.

Karina and her husband divorced.

“I felt betrayed, rejected and angry,” Karina remembers. “I had no vision. I only wanted our boys to feel loved and secure when my world was crashing.” Read the rest: She fought to get off welfare.

Abortion survivor meets biological mom

melissa ohden abortion survivor meets momWhen Melissa Ohden’s mom left the abortion clinic more than 30 years ago, she thought her fetus was disposed of properly.

She was a 19-year-old college student and was told the baby in her womb would ruin her life. She was pressured to “terminate the pregnancy” quickly and “conveniently,” and she followed their advice, according to her testimonial video on Eternal Word Television Network’s YouTube channel.

But baby Melissa didn’t die from the saline infusion of toxic water that was injected into the amniotic sack to kill her. She was removed from the womb very much alive.

Melissa weighed less than three pounds. After nurses sustained her with hospital care, she was adopted into a loving home.

abortion survivor forgives mom“God had a plan,” she says.

Today Melissa is married and an outspoken critic of abortion who has testified before Congress. She documents the trials and travails of finding out the truth of her origin in the stirring book, You Carried Me: A Daughter’s memoir.

At 14, Melissa was told about her adoption. But the news that her biological mother had tried to kill her hit like a tsunami. Negative emotions were born and took root.

Under the crushing rejection of her biological mother, Melissa spun out of control with bulimia, alcohol and sexuality — all coping mechanisms to deal with the raw pain.

“It absolutely devastated my life,” she says. “I didn’t want anyone else to know how much I was hurting.”

melissa ohdenHow did she break the cycle of self-destruction?

“It was the grace of God that saved me,” she says. “I had to be willing to wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to do that’” anymore.

As she grew, married, and had children, Melissa kept thinking about her biological mom. Who was she? Under what circumstances did she resort to such a drastic procedure? What was she like?

She embarked on a quest to find her mother.

“I loved her,” she says. “My love for her deepens year after year. Now I know the truth of how she was forced into that abortion.”

Initially through correspondence, she began to get to know her mother, and she came to understand and forgive her mom, who suffered 30 years of agonizing guilt, hiding the painful memory of killing her child.

Her journey led her embrace her mother and feel empathy for all women who feel cornered into abortion, she says. Read the rest: abortion survivor meets her mom.

Edwin Arroyave and Real Wives of Beverly Hills’ Teddi Mellencamp unashamed to tout Jesus

Edwin Arroyave and Teddi MellencampJust two weeks after he arrived from Colombia as a child and was taken to a luxurious home in Glendora, CA, little Edwin Arroyave watched his home raided because his father was under suspicion for drug trafficking.

Both mom and dad were hauled away, and Edwin and his two siblings saw their dream-like landing in America turn into nightmare as they went into foster care.

“After that, our home would get raided once a year,” he told Ed Mylett on a YouTube video. “It’s exactly like you see in the movies, probably worse. They just come in and turn that house upside down. The first three times they raided, my dad wasn’t there. I could hear the helicopter flying overhead looking for him.”

edwin arroyave christianOn the fourth raid, federal agents arrested and convicted Edwin’s dad. The family moved into poverty-stricken Huntington Park.

“Son, you need to be the man of house now,” his dad managed to tell him before being locked away “for a long time.”

“That was a blow to me because my dad was my hero,” Edwin says. “I was 10. Even though I didn’t know what he did for a living, I admired that he took care of everyone. He showed me a lot of love. It was a big blow.”

Mom and the kids were so poor they had to rent two of the rooms in the 3-bedroom apartment to make rent. Eight people lived in the apartment. “It was very cramped,” he says. “I remember roaches waking me up every night.”

teddi-mellencamp-dove-baby-girlThrough the chaos of their lives, mom prayed over him and built up his self-esteem. Edwin came to accept Jesus into his heart.

“You have greatness in you,” mom told him.

He dreamed of fulfilling the American Dream.

Because his sister’s boyfriend made $100,000 a year, Edwin decided he would earn that amount too.

He ditched high school classes and went to a posh Rodeo Drive upscale shopping district to window-shop and then tour the priciest neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills to see the mansions.

“One day, I’m going to be here,” he announced dreamily.

At 15 he got his first job. It was tele-marketing.

“I was just so grateful to get a job,” he says. “I was the youngest guy they hired. I just worked my butt off.”

At 16, he was promoted to supervisor of five employees. At 18, he was made manager of 40 employees. He was making $1,000 a week and became the right hand of the vice president of sales.

A short time later, the VP resigned and invited Edwin to help him found an alarm system company. Edwin would have to quit his $60,000 a year job and had no guarantee of success at the startup.

Today, that startup is Skyline Security, a $34 million giant in the domain of home security systems.

“A lot of success comes from common sense. I thought, ‘This guy is making 250 grand a year, he’s risking everything for it. He must be pretty serious.’”

“I took a risk to follow my dreams,” he says. “Everyone told me, ‘There’s no way you’re going to leave another $70,000 a year job for the unknown.’ But if you’re going to make it big, you have to go all in.”

He married Teddi Mellencamp, daughter of rocker John Mellencamp, who launched a weight loss program after she got her own fluctuating weight under control. They have three kids together and attend Mosaic Church, a hipster magnet, in Hollywood.

Teddi is also featured in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality show.

“Faith is huge for both of us,” Edwin says. “Before we went on the show, I had fear of the unknown. But we prayed about it and felt that God was putting this opportunity before us to show our faith and give Him glory.” Read the rest: Edwin Arroyave and Teddi Mellencamp Christian.

Long Beach church girl found her way back to God

praising JesusAt 10, Veronyka dressed like a boy and wanted to be a gangster. Then her father got radically saved and she started attending church.

“My family gang-bangs,” she said on a video posted by the Long Beach Door Church. “That’s just the life I came from. I come from generations and generations of gangsters. When you come from the lifestyle that I come from, there are strongholds.”

But after tasting church life, she decided to follow her secular friends and leave the church.

veronyka sanchez“I was going to church but I was also walling out, drinking and going to parties,” she said. I was living a double life. I never had a real one on one relationship with God. When I was 17 and I got my first real taste of the world, I decided, ‘This is awesome. I love it,’ and, ‘Freedom!’ and I got pregnant. I just kind of went downhill from there.”

Veronyka left home and lived house to house during the pregnancy and after giving birth. Then when her baby turned one, Veronyka turned to do what she thought was the only career available to her.

“I started dancing,” she says. “I was in a really hard place, and I felt very alone. I felt like I needed to get quick money fast. Everything that I ever knew was unraveling so fast, so I started dancing. Little did I know that I was going to go down a really dark rabbit hole once I opened that door.”

For three years, she made good money “dancing.” She got her own place and her own car and lived in San Bernardino.

“I got involved with some people who definitely took advantage of me and manipulated me,” she says. “As dark as an environment that I got in, I could have gotten deeper. It scared me to a point where I was like, ‘Am I going to go fully into what I’m doing or am I going to stop all of this and turn back to God?’ Read the rest: Church in Long Beach.

Best-selling author Andrew Klavan came to Christ

Author 1Andrew Klavan, international best-selling author, grew up in a Jewish household devoid of God.

He felt like a hypocrite at his bar mitzvah when he recited Hebrew statements of faith neither he nor his parents believed. “Judaism is a beautiful religion, but when you empty it of God, it has no meaning,” he told CBN.

He threw himself into reading. He didn’t get along with his dad, so he searched for male role models in books. He struck on the noir, Hemingwayesque hero, the tough guy womanizer who held to his own moral code.

The Long Island native liked reading so much that he started writing, first for a newspaper in Putnam County, NY, and then riveting detective novels. He wrote prolifically and read widely.

100780_w_760_724“The more I read, the more I found that Christianity was at the center of almost every great story that I loved,” Klavan said. “I started to read the Gospel according to Luke as a piece of literature just to find out what everybody was talking about, and I found that the figure of Jesus Christ was at the center of Western Culture.”

At first, he examined the issues only as a sociologist, trying to understand the origins and evolution of Western Civilization’s values and development. But the quest for truth that his protagonists portrayed resonated in his heart and eventually Klavan realized nothing made sense without the existence of God.

“I began to believe in my mind that there actually was a God, but I didn’t know Him yet,” he explained to CBN.

One day he read in a book that a character prayed before going to sleep and Klavan decided he could try the same. Tentatively, he muttered a very terse prayer.

“Thank, You, Lord,” he uttered.

Undramatically, he fell asleep.

“I woke up the next morning and truly everything had changed,” he says. ”There was a new clarity to everything. My heart was filled with gratitude. I was experiencing a joy that had been locked away. Suddenly, knowing God opened me up to my own experience of life.”

That tiny prayer turned into titanic growth in the Lord. Read the rest of the article Andrew Klavan Christian

Before there was Corona, there was crisis in Venezuela on border of Colombia

dr. bob hamilton and ligthhouse medical missions in columbia 2020Some of them walked 10 days to cross the border into Colombia in search of food or medical supplies they could take back to socialism-starved Venezuela.

Johnny Huerta and a team of six doctors, eight nurses and 24 other volunteers were in Cucuta, Colombia, on a temporary medical and feeding mission to show the love of Christ in a tangible way.

“We were swarmed by people,” said Johnny, who’s a painter and baseball player from Santa Monica. “They were grabbing us, grabbing us, like, ‘Pray for me. Pray for me.’”

food for venezuelan refugeesThe pleas for prayers grew to a fevered pitch after some miraculous healings and exorcisms, Johnny says.

The Lighthouse Medical Mission, which got its start 25 years ago in war-torn West Africa, landed on the border of Venezuela on March 7th — before most of the U.S. got locked down over Coronavirus fears. The humanitarian crisis of 40,000 daily border crossings there has been essentially eclipsed.

The Santa Monica-based team provided medical attention and drugs and handed out 3,000 meals a day in conjunction with World Central Kitchen in three areas: in Cucuta, in a Yukpa village on the outskirts of town and in nearby Pamplona. The 39 people divided up in teams to minister in each area.

Johnny Huerta Cucuta Columbia

Johnny Huerta shares fun with the kids.

Johnny was assigned logistics, took pictures, but mostly got roped into translation. The stories he heard of dead family members and left-behind family members appalled him as well as the squalor he witnessed. In the Yukpa village, there were no bathrooms and people lived in huts fashioned with tree limbs and plastic tarp.

“People can live with little and still be happy, but this was not healthy,” Johnny says. “They bathe in an unsanitary river, and that’s why they get lots of infections. They also drink out of that river.

“They have makeshift huts built out of garbage. Babies are walking around naked. They pretty much have nothing. It was one of those shocking situations where you say, ‘Wow people are waking up and living like this every day with unhealthy conditions.’”

The team brought two chefs, but they were prevented from serving until they scrambled to obtain Columbia food preparation licenses.

When they arrived at the border on the first day, “we weren’t sure how they were going to respond as we got out of the van to serve the food,” Johnny says. “They were desperate for food and outnumbered us. Immediately they ran over and we tried to get them in a line, which eventually became a crowd.

“As we tried to transport apples from the back of the van to the food serving area they began to crowd the back of the van as well. We ended up handing out the apples from the van as we were never gonna get through. The next couple of times we fed at the border we organized police protection in advance and were a bit more organized. Even then it was still a bit chaotic.”

Short-term missions are highly recommended because they can impact American church-goers forever: they broaden horizons, impart vision and erode entitlement.

“I was just thankful they gave me the privilege of being able to go with me,” Johnny says. “You feel like you get more out than you put into it. I’m more mature in my faith and in my life than I was before.”

As busy as he was being pulled this way and that, Johnny still found time to share his passion for painting with the kids. It was a personal connection he’ll treasure for life.

In Pamplona, the team attended 3,000 patients.

Many people are losing their eyesight because of rampant infections, Johnny says.

While the doctors saw patients, the pastors and lay leaders were praying for people, many of whom got healed even before they received medical attention, Johnny says.

That’s when they started getting swarmed.

Because witchcraft is widely practiced in the region, several people were delivered from demonic spirits, Johnny says.

“One lady was released from demon possession. She looked super oppressed beforehand and was all smiles afterward,” Johnny says. “They practice witchcraft and spiritism because of their circumstances. They’re reaching out for help. But when we came to them with the gospel, they were open.” Read the rest: Venezuelan refugees Christian response

He tried to be the devil’s #1

Ronnie Legg Texas gangster turned to ChristIncarcerated for a schoolyard murder, a psychologist told 12-year-old Ronnie Legg there was no forgiveness available to Him from God.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’ll never be able to get into Heaven,” he says on a video published by a Texas outreach group. “I might as well be the devil’s #1. As soon as I was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years, I started pushing hard to try to do the devil’s work. I was pushing hard to be the ultimate gangster.”

Ronnie’s troubles began early: a single mom, abused as a tyke, living in poverty. For selling drugs on the wrong street in East Houston, his brother was killed. Nine-year-old Ronnie followed in his footsteps with drinking and smoking dope.

Ronnie Legg saved from gangsHis mother, brokenhearted at the loss of one son, steeled her heart against what she thought was the inevitable demise of Ronnie.

“There’s no more love here for you because you’re going down the same path your brother went down,” his mom told him. “You ain’t going to do nothing different, so I’ll be danged if you break my heart.”

Ronnie responded to the rejection by throwing the first object he could find at her.

“I hate you,” he yelled.

At age 12, he was on the schoolyard when a group of young gangsters tried to jump him. But they didn’t count on Ronnie being armed and he shot three of them, killing one. He was arrested four days later. Even without a jailhouse confession, prosecutors secured a conviction.

Ronnie Legg Game OverBy age 15, he was in the penitentiary because he was so dangerous. While there, he joined the Houstone Blast gang and fought every day to make a name for himself.

“As I started doing that, everybody was patting me on the back,” he recalls.

Released from prison, he trafficked dope, pimping and kidnapping in Houston.

In December 1999, the Feds tracked him down. It seems his best friend snitched on him. Sentenced to 72 months, he got into trouble in prison so much that his sentence was lengthened to 9 years and 4 months and then into 12 years.

“I ended up walking around some of the worst prisons in the whole United States,” he says. He was in Beaumont prison during the racial riots. He was transferred to Oklahoma and then to Pollack, Louisiana. Of 100 Texans in Pollack, only he and another survived.

Ronnie eventually was transferred to a Death Row penitentiary in Indiana. In Victorville penitentiary, he was thrown in with the Crips and Bloods. It didn’t matter to him that he was the only Houstone. Almost immediately, he stabbed someone on the yard.

Finally, he was transferred to the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” in Florence, Colorado, the “worst of the worst. Everybody there is a killer. Three people a day get stabbed,” Ronnie says.

When he was admitted, the warden gave him one warning:

“All I ask is that you don’t put no steel in my officers.”

When he was finally released, Ronnie went home and immediately resumed drug trafficking.

He got busted for a crime he didn’t commit. Read the rest: Houstone gang Christian.

‘I started punching myself in the face,’ says Muslim in disbelief after Jesus healed his mouth pain

khaleed-matmatiAs a Muslim, Khaleed Matmati was skeptical that Jesus would take away the pain from his mouth infection. But after prayer he was so astonished that the pain was gone the next morning.

“I started punching myself in my face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and my face,” Khaleed says on a CBN video. “I realized Jesus was God. I just told Him, ‘Okay, Jesus, I give you my life.’”

Khaleed grew up as a Muslim immigrant who wasn’t particularly drawn to the rigorous disciplines of Islam. What drew him was music.

“I always believed that Allah was God,” he says. “But growing up in high school I wanted to have fun. I saw everybody else having fun. What’s fun about not smoking pot? What’s fun about not drinking? What’s fun about not partying? I thought, ‘Later on when I become a parent and have children, then I’ll be a good Muslim.’”

When worship leader Eddie James met Khaleed, the Lord spoke to him about taking Khaleed on the road with him. Even though Khaleed wasn’t Christian, Eddie James hired him because God had told him that Khaleed would convert.

2593-1498622988-31495“It was right after 9/11 had happened, and Eddie was not trying to take no Muslim into his ministry,” Khaleed says now laughing.

Khaleed didn’t care for the religion. What he liked was the chance to learn music. ”I thought this was my big break,” he says. “I wanted to learn what I could from Eddie and go and do my own thing.”

His initial sign from God was on his first stop in Nashville Tennessee.

It started off with his friend David, who got bitten by a bug, which later began to swell.

They were staying in a Christian’s house and the mother of the household announced she would pray for David.

“This lady has gotta be out of her mind,” Khaleed thought to himself at the time. “Jesus healing a hand? That’s the stuff they do on TV. Who believes that crap?”

1f5efd4778b9544cc50ec70fc00a5e1fShe prayed, and then — to Khaleed’s astonishment — the swelling went down.

“Right in front of my face, the swelling goes away,” Khaleed remembers. “You couldn’t even tell anything was wrong with his hand.”

After he saw that, Khaleed wondered if he himself could be healed. He had been experiencing pain due to an infection in his mouth and gums.

“Can you do for my mouth what I saw you do for his hand?” he asked.

“When she started praying for me, the pain was gone,” he recalls. “I needed a minute to comes to grips with what just happened. I remember sitting in the chair after she prayed for me thinking, ‘Oh my God, my whole life is going to change.’”

Still, Khaleed was not ready to ditch Islam. So he thought that perhaps the painkillers he’d been taking had finally kicked in. They asked him if he was healed. He responded: “Let me tell you in the morning” after the painkillers will have worn off.

The next morning, he woke up and began munching sugar molasses cookies. As he savored them, he swished them around in his mouth trying to re-provoke the pain.

“There was absolutely no pain,” he says. “I began to really start freaking out. I began to start punching myself in the face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and in my mouth. I realized that Jesus was God. Read the rest: what happens when Muslims get healed by Jesus?

Could he forgive the death of his brother? Bryann Trejo punches the devil and doesn’t retaliate against the killers

AR-190919667Bryann Trejo was a cold-blooded killer* who’d already spent half his adult life in jail. So when gangsters gunned down his twin brother, Bryann T was tempted to exact a brutal and immediate revenge.

“Even after he was saved, he was murdered,” Bryann says about his brother to Rapzilla. “I came to know Christ as well. I forgave his enemies and murderers and God wrote a new song in my heart.”

Bryann’s twin, named Ryan, is a frequent subject in the hip hop of Bryann Trejo, who is leader of the Kingdom Music Family based in Abilene, Texas. The gangster-turned-pastor’s music, which recently catapulted to the highest levels in CHH, communicates an urgency and passion to get lost souls out of the unforgiving streets and into Jesus’ eternal forgiveness.

bryann trejoBryann was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, but his family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, when he was 13. There, he fell into armed robberies and selling narcotics. The juvenile delinquent system and then later adult jail, had a “revolving door” for Bryann, he admits on his website.

“I was thugging, out whiling, a Mexican with a cohete (Spanish slang for a gun) with the love the streets,” Bryann says on a Frontline Ministries Braden Hall YouTube video. “That type of love landed me in shootouts, prison, depression and suicide attempts.”

Because FIRST TIME gangsters attempted to kill his brother, Bryann unleashed a furious retaliation that landed him 30 years in jail for two attempted murders. Eventually the charges were lowered with a plea bargain.

Bryann got out of jail at age 27. His brother had gotten saved and Bryann determined to straighten up with God too.

“I’m a knucklehead. I had an identical twin, and we were mixed up in all kinds of bad stuff,” Bryann told Rapzilla. “But he came to know Christ. We started rapping together. But even after he was saved, he was murdered. I came to know Christ as well.”

bryann and monica trejoThe SECOND ATTEMPT on Ryan’s life was a case of mistaken identity on May 28, 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ryan was trying to disciple a young hoodlum, whom the gangsters were looking for in reprisal for a murder days earlier. The killers showered him with bullets.

Bryann was enraged and broken beyond belief. But he was committed to not relapsing into the old life. Even though he knew who the killers were and could have easily tracked them down, he decided to walk in Christian forgiveness.

“The anger came. God, how could you let my brother get murdered? He served You. I wanted to question Him,” Bryann says on a CUTV video. “I wanted revenge. I’d been in prison before for attempted murder, so when he died it’s already in me to retaliate, especially since he was innocent. I wanted them to pay.”

Bryann came to a crossroads. He faced a momentous decision: either relapse into ravenous revenge or make an audacious stand of forgiveness.

He cried out to God: “Lord, I’m about to go cuckoo. I’m about to lose everything. I got six kids; he got six kids. They’re going to lose daddy and uncle. I knew right then and there, I had to forgive.

“I argued with God, ‘But my brother was innocent,’” he continues. “And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus was innocent.’ Then I was like, ‘But he didn’t deserve this.’ And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus didn’t deserve it.’”

It wasn’t by any means easy, but Bryann struggled to truly forgive. He still struggles with “bitterness and poison” in his heart. Every day he’s reminded about his brother’s death every day.

“I see his face in the mirror. We’re identical twins,” Bryann says. “His case is still open. The so-called friends didn’t want to be snitches, so they didn’t say nothing. Everything I thought was real in the streets was fake. So now I have this passion to expose Satan and tell people that he is a liar.”

When he returns to the neighborhood, his former friends still provoke him to take revenge.

“The people ridicule me,” he says. “Homeboys be like, ‘You ain’t going to retaliate? That’s your brother. What kind of brother are you?’” he says. Those words stir up the old street pride.

“What, you don’t think I will?” he counters. But then he remembers he’s living in forgiveness.

“I’m not that man. I don’t fight the way I used to fight,” he says. “I trust through Christ that His way of fighting is better than my way of fighting. I’m really punching Satan every time I forgive. I just didn’t know that was the way to fight back because it didn’t make no sense in the physical. We all want to fight the enemy.” Read the rest: Bryann Trejo rapper no revenge

One month after his wife died, Danny Gokey tried out for American Idol

danny gokeyDanny Gokey’s wife died unexpectedly during a routine heart surgery in 2009.

“They gave me a private room and I yelled out loud, ‘God you have to save her! You have to heal her! You have to. You cannot leave me alone like this!’” he said on an I am Second video. “It got to the point where she was gone, and once again that old familiar thing of fear came back into my life.

“I felt in my heart, God’s mad at me.”

Christian singer Daniel Jay Gokey, 40, is best known for his first single, “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” which peaked at number 29 on the country chart, inspiring him to release his full record My Best Days in early 2010.

Born in Milwaukee, Danny attended Heritage Christian Schools and sang with his family in church. In his mid twenties he became the director of Faith Builders International Ministries.

Leyicet-Peralta-WikiDuring this time, he married Sophia Martinez, who was also a fellow church-going music fan.

It was Sophia who encouraged Danny to audition for American Idol. He was accepted as a recipient and ultimately placed third in 2009. This launched his music career, which he aimed at the Christian pop segment.

Four weeks before Danny’s tryout on American Idol, Sophia died. He performed his best in devotion to her.

“I made a promise that I would go try out,” Danny says. “Little did I know that when I would try out for this show, it would be a month after she passed.”

Sophia had a heart condition from birth but had gotten it fixed in a surgery when she was young. Or so Danny thought.

“Little did I know that in our first year of marriage that we’d be in the hospital together because her heart was beating 200 times per minute,” Danny recalls. “And that’s when the doctor dropped the news on us. We were both 24 years old. He said, ‘We’re going to have to have another heart surgery.’”

In his youth, Danny was plagued by all kinds of irrational fears. Many of his fears centered on whether God truly and unconditionally loved him.

Now all the old fears rose up. Read the rest: Danny Gokey’s wife died.

She found no peace in the ‘religion of peace’ until she found the Prince of Peace

Jazal KhatriAll the praying to Allah did little good for Jazal Khatri, whose parents fought contiually and finally divorced.

But when a co-worker’s prayers calmed her panic attack, Jazal experienced a peace never before felt.

“I can no longer think that I’m worthless because if my name is written on God’s hand, as Isaiah 49 mentions, that means He always cares about me,” says Jazal on a 700 Club video. “

Jazal (now with a new last name, Osorio, as a married woman) grew up in a strict Muslim family in America.

Jazal Osorio“I believed that staying true to Islam was something my parents and I would bond over,” she says. “As I did as they requested me to do — like going to the mosque with them, participating in Ramadan fasting — it would bring us closer.”

The hoped-for result never materialized. Instead, she and her mom would flee at midnight frequently.

“I could go to bed thinking everything’s fine and wake up the next morning and it would be disaster,” she says.

And Allah responded with no peace when she prayed.

“Allah seemed really distant for me. I didn’t really feel like I was being listened to. I felt more of like I was going through the motions. I was not really feeling anything in return from god, any love or support or hope. I wanted.

“I wanted that peace that people keep talking about that Islam represents and I didn’t ever feel that.”

When she was a senior in high school, her father called it quits to the tumultuous marriage. Subsequently, mom started a new family.

“After I went through all that with my family, I kind of felt like I wasn’t worthy of any affection or love,” she recounts. “I looked for it from my parents and didn’t get it. It was kind of a reminder: Hey Jazal, you’re not that great. If you were great, your family wouldn’t have left you behind.” Read the rest: no peace in the ‘religion of peace.’

Beyond God’s forgiveness because he altered his body to be transgender?

72137812_1391789564304612_6296076620306317312_nSamuel’s mother prayed but couldn’t get pregnant. So when Samuel was conceived, he was her miracle child.

Growing up in a Christian household in Fort Myers, Florida,, little Samuel Jordan III dreamed of becoming a pastor.

But at eight years old, he was sexually abused by a friend’s family member.

“He starts saying things like ‘We’re just acting, I’m gonna be the man, you’re gonna be the woman,’” says Samuel. “The innocence that I carried as a little boy that loved Jesus, I really felt like that got snatched away from me,” he recounts on a 700 Club video.

samuel jordan as a kidSamuel didn’t tell his mom about the first traumatic abuse. It happened again, followed by more violations.

Perversely, Samuel began to enjoy the sin and seek it regularly.

By age 14, he was exploring homosexuality on his own with friends from school.

Meanwhile, feelings of guilt and shame troubled him at church.

“I asked God, ‘Whatever this feeling is, I need you to take this out of me,’” Samuel recalls. But “it seemed every time I prayed, nothing really changed.”

The routine of secret sin got upended when mom discovered an explicit note in his backpack. She was shocked and decided to take a radical stand of tough love: to cut off her relationship with her son.

“My relationship with her at that moment took a shift. She told me, ‘If this is how you’re gonna live, I can’t talk to you.’” Samuel remembers, crying. ”I was like her blessing, but I became her curse, and she could no longer look at me.”

In hopes to restore his relationship with his mom, he halted the promiscuity.

transgender transformedHe never could patch things up with his mother. She died of cancer after two years of broken communication with her son.

“I felt like that last piece of me had left the earth,” he says. “There was a hollowness in my heart and Samuel was gone.”

Then his father moved in with another woman and Samuel was left on his own.

With no one around to support him, Samuel gravitated back towards the life of sin and found acceptance in the gay community.

“I really hated Samuel. He wasn’t accepted, Samuel was disowned, Samuel was alone,” he continues. “So when I finally saw (the gay) lifestyle and found a sense for belonging, I went for it.”

Samuel changed his name to Simone and lived as a transgender and got breast implants.

He even worked as an escort.

“Simone was that person that got the level of affirmation and love and acceptance that Samuel never got,” Samuel states.

At the same time, he wrestled with guilt and shame.

“Though I had become this person, I didn’t know who I was looking at,” Samuel recalls. “I just felt like my inside who I really was, was now being destroyed.”

After he dropped out of Tallahassee Community College, he moved back to Fort Myers into the home of a family friend who took him on the condition that he go to church with her.

He wasn’t altogether turned off by the idea of going to church. He felt very lost and hoped to find some direction.

As he listened to the worship, he felt a new sensation coming over him.

“I knew I was desperate for something, and that moment made sense,” Samuel says. “I was desperate for Him and I was lost without Him, and so as he began to sing, began to cry from a very desperate place.” Read the rest: transgender not beyond the forgiveness and restoration of God.

Run DMC, now ‘Rev Run’

RevRun-Justine-SimmonsBefore his influence, hip hop was a backwater movement off most people’s radar. Then Joseph Simmons and his group Run DMC brought rap to the mainstream in the mid 1980s and suddenly it became an international sensation.

Joseph Simmons banked millions, landed his own $2.0 million Adidas shoe deal and had innumerable adoring fans. A few albums later, he had fallen off.

One member of the trio was murdered, another was lost in drugs, and Joseph Simmons, succumbing to alcoholism, was left scratching his head wondering why the genre he helped found had all but forgotten him. His wife was divorcing him. He was accused of rape. His fame, finances and family were frittering away.

Thankfully the New York native turned to God.

run-dmc-portrait-joseph-run-simmons-darryl-d-m-c-news-photo-1579816339“There are always your darkest moments before the birth of a beautiful thing. Rev Run at his low point was not quite Rev Run,” he says, speaking in third person about himself, to the Guardian. “He was trying to understand this great thing that was happening to him. There was a time to reap, a time to sow. A time for it to be sunny outside and a time when it’s so dark you have no option but to just be or you’ll go nuts.”

“Records sales weren’t as high as they was (sic),” he says on NPR. “I was a little unhappy with what was going on so I started going to church. And when I started going to church I started to feel better. Things were starting to look brighter for me. I started to see that learning the principles of God was helping to shape my life better.”

RevFamily-panoramaAs the rap genre turned dark and promoted drugs and gang violence, Simmons turned to church. It was a former Run DMC bodyguard, Bobby Walker, who finding Run wallowing in depression persuaded him to attend New York’s Zoe Ministries Church in 1990. Within five years Run had gone from usher to ordained minister, donning the moniker Reverend Run.

Today, the 55-year-old who once rapped Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” on colab now teaches people to “walk His way” and preaches an aggressive, rhapsodic message wherever he’s invited: “You must be born again, my friend, or you’re going straight to hell,” Southcoast Today quoted him at a 1996 church service.

As a Pentecostal pastor, Rev Run was turning heads. In 2005, he got the chance to bring God’s truths about family and marriage to a reality show on MTV.

Yes, you read that right. MTV — that profane purveyor of hedonism, anti-God-ism and ADD — the last a result of the rapid fire succession of endless images to music. It was MTV where potty-mouthed Ozzy Osbourne, the satanic concert chicken-head decapitator, had his reality show. It was an imponderable spot for a reverend to be preaching — or rather practicing what he preaches.

MTV was also an extraordinary opportunity to shine light into an incredible dark space, and he was given the opportunity to dispense sound spiritual advice on “Run’s House” because of his previous work as Run DMC’s front man. Now he had, instead of platinum sales, an eternal view toward streets of gold. Read the rest: How did Rev Run become Christian?

Crushed by stress and hate, cops have nowhere to turn except Jesus

5-8m3xyxGruesome crimes that cannot be “unseen” sometimes weigh down on and break the heart of police officers who got into law enforcement with enthusiasm and idealism.

Without a “Biblical mindset,” the men and women in blue turn to anger, alcohol and divorce at higher frequencies than almost any other group in society, says Paul Lee, executive director of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (FCPO).

Police have a divorce rate of 75 percent and a domestic abuse rate of 40 percent, the FCPO website says.

740460_354217591351768_1007974035_o-lzgduy“If you have the scriptures behind you and you have a firm foundation, then you know that lost people are acting like lost people,” Lee says. “Today we have lost people and lost cops out on the streets clashing and acting like lost people while Satan claps his hands together with glee.”

The FCPO’s 250 local chapters reach out to the nation’s 1.1 million local, state and national enforcement officers with the Gospel from a perspective that cops can understand.

p5110042-rpxqbfLee accepted Jesus into his heart in 1995 — after 17 years of handling the stress of police work in his own strength. He immediately joined the Chattanooga chapter of FCPO and was hooked to their Bible studies and discipleship support group.

“Once I realized I had this whole new family that loved me, I was sold,” Lee says. “We began to read scriptures and learn to apply the scripture on the streets, which was a challenge. If you’re not reading the Bible, you don’t know what to do.”

Many officers don’t have the advantage of growing up in a Christian home, Lee says.

Raised in church, Lee left God and began working in law enforcement. After years of apprehending criminals and witnessing unimaginable monstrosities on the cruel streets, Lee descended into an abyss of anger, distrustful cynicism and heavy drinking.

He divorced his wife.

“Being a police officer and seeing all the evil and trying to deal with that evil in my own strength, I had become calloused,” he remembers. “I felt nothing. I hated everybody. Nobody told you the truth.”

When his mother died, he thought over his life. In the shower before her funeral, Lee remembered her dedication to Christ and reflected on his own prodigality.

“I knew the life I was living was totally wrong. I had faulted God for 20 years. But the death of my mother totally broke me and brought me to the lowest point in my life.” Lee says. “My life was passing before my eyes like a bad B-movie. I was crying uncontrollably.”

In the shower, Lee said three things to the Lord: “I give up. I surrender. and continue reading about Police PSTD and Jesus.

Zabbai just used God until he felt His warm love

73523542_2456959294358186_3860788287543181312_oZabbai says he “pimped out” God.

In the modern usage of the word, “to pimp” means more than just running a prostitution operation. It means to use something only for your personal benefit.

Whatever linguistic evolution has done to water down the word “pimp,” its usage by Christian rapper Zabbai is still a startling self criticism of his life as a pastor’s kid.

I lived life as a phony Christian
Livin’ in sin knowing I could ask forgiveness
Sick how I manipulated your heart
Pimpin’ you out, treatin’ you just like a broad.

artist_781974-1548001580At 17, Bradsley Rumble came to terms with the Jesus he avoided in his youth while he was smoking marijuana and “flexing” to get girls.

“It was then (I) realized that truth is not a thing but a person,” he says.

Born of Jamaican culture into a Christian family in Connecticut, Bradsley, who now goes by a stage name, struggled with fitting in with his peers instead of standing out as a church goody-goody.

Beginning in the 9th grade, he practiced hip hop. When he came to Jesus, he ditched the sin and donned the rap. He adopted the name Zabbai from the Old Testament, which he says means “wanderer, pure, flowing.” Read the rest: Zabbai Christian rap artist

Hyper Fenton’s eruption on CHH

_500W_500HWhen Seth Jacon Fenton searched for a stage name, he had only to think what afflicted him in grade school and what led to innumerable suspensions.

“Hyper” was the name he chose, which he uses with his last name.

Hyper Fenton’s unique mixture of hip hop and electronic music erupted on CHH in 2016. The Dallas native may be “Chilling in Dallas” (the name of what is perhaps his most popular song), but he hasn’t chilled about much. He’s been hyperactive since childhood.

Naturally, one gig is not enough for a man of boundless energy. He is the minister of preschool and children at his father’s church, Meadows Baptist Church, in Plano, Texas, immediately north of Dallas.

image-asset

No doubt, he’s a hyper snowboarder. Pictured with his wife. Is she hyper too?

He’s also an actor. In fact, he studied acting in college, acted in plays throughout school, and “acted up” in the classroom. “Whether on stage or in the principal’s office, Seth was full of passion, hyperactive, explosive, many times impulsive,” his website says. “Seth had a yearning, a longing to dream, perform and to express himself.”

It was also in college that he fell in love with hip hop. When Moflo Music Production’s owner heard a song randomly from Hyper Fenton, he approached him about working together. The results: numerous singles and three albums — Kindergarten Dreams, Terabithia and Remembering Me.

The 27-year-old grew up in his dad’s church and accepted Jesus into his heart at age six. He loved Jesus but was drawn intensely to performing arts.

“It seemed that with Seth there were two things at war within him, a desire to Love and serve Jesus Christ, the God who saved him, and a desire to express himself through art and creativity,” his website says. Read the rest: Hyper Fenton Christian rap.

The cancer-surviving miracle baby Gideon Thompson

Gideon ThompsonAfter the Thompsons’ first baby, they spent 10 years trying to get pregnant again, then decided to become foster parents. After a decade they were shocked and surprised when Jenny Thompson got pregnant again.

“We tried for years to have another child,” Tony Thompson told CBN. “For some reason we just never could conceive again. We got very, very heartbroken and decided to become certified foster parents.”

As foster parents living in Chesapeake Bay, they adopted a teenager and a son, Alexander.

Then Jenny got pregnant.

Gideon Thompson cancer“We had prayed for 10 years and Gideon West was just a huge answer to prayer,” Jenny said.

Over lunch at Gideon’s first birthday, Tony reached over to straighten the tyke’s head. He shrieked in pain.

A visit with the pediatrician led to a referral to the hospital. After a CT scan, doctors determined he needed surgery immediately to remove a brain tumor.

It was staggering news.

“Our world just stopped,” Jenny says. She called friends, family and church to pray.

Tony ThompsonThe surgery lasted nine-and-a-half hours.

“We felt so helpless,” Jenny says. “Directly after the surgery, his body was failing. He was on medication. He had tears coming down his face. My heart just broke into pieces.”

She cried and cried to God, who gave her a vision of Gideon playing joyfully with angels.

“It was perfect peace,” Jenny recounted. “From that moment on I knew that no matter what the outcome was going to be God had our baby.”

In other words, even if he died, he would be in Heaven.

Gideon remained in ICU for 30 days.

The tumor was examined in pathology. It was cancerous.

“How do you even fathom that your child has cancer?” Tony said. “The question was, God, why would you bless us with this child just to take him away from us? What did we do so wrong?”

Even though the outlook was bleak, Tony and Jenny determined to pray and believe. They held on to hope.

As “a way of coping,” the couple launched a Facebook page “Prayer for Gideon” that quickly went viral. Gideon’s progress was constantly updated, as were specific prayer requests.

“After 30 days in the ICU, Gideon just turned a corner,” Jenny says. “And he started chemotherapy.” Read the rest: after a miracle of conceiving out of infertility, the Thompsons faced brain cancer in their baby Gideon.

Supermodel Kathy Ireland’s journey to Christ

Ireland_CAASpeakers_Photo1God was a yeller, or so Kathy Ireland thought.

At the church she grew up in, the pastor preached a screechy, judgmental message and she superimposed the image of her pastor on God. She thought that God must be like that.

“There was a part of me that was kind of scared of God,” Ireland says on an I am Second video. “The church that I attended as a child, the leader there would kind of yell.”

She jumped into modeling at age 16 and was featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Mademoiselle and the racy Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition multiple times.

Ireland flew off to Paris to start modeling at age18. “It sounds so much more glamorous than it was,” she admits.

Her mother, who had accepted Jesus when Ireland was a teen, slipped a Bible in her luggage. She didn’t feel comfortable staying at a home provided in Paris. She often locked herself in her room, and other models who stayed there ominously called it “the dungeon.”

kathy-ireland-business-mogulOne night, lonely, bored, jet-lagged, Ireland found the Bible and began to thumb through its pages, a novelty for her.

“I randomly opened up to the Gospel of Matthew,” Ireland says. “As I read, my life was forever changed.”

Ireland had been a rebellious teenager who questioned authority. She wondered about truth and what was right and wrong.

When she examined the Bible for the first time, she realized it contained the truth.

“I think one of the things that grabbed a hold of me was that Jesus wasn’t anything like I thought,” Ireland continues. “He wasn’t condemning. He wasn’t yelling. Instead, He was loving, and He was leading.”

Ireland discovered that modeling is a world flush with exploitation. “Particularly as a young woman out in the world for the first time, in a world that often times felt dominated by men of questionable character, it gave me such comfort to know that Jesus loves women and honors them,” she says. Read the rest: Kathy Ireland Christian.

Owners of Forever 21 proclaim Jesus

Forever-21+(1)Nothing is forever except Heaven, as the owners of Forever 21 are discovering.

After trail-blazing fast fashion for three decades, Do Won and Jin Chang’s clothing stores made them billionaires but are now in the throes of bankruptcy.

The couple is strong in faith and their brand proudly prints “John 3:16” on the bottom of every bag as a witness for Christ. But now the chain is struggling for its economic existence.

merlin_162717138_d7d472aa-d124-46e0-b194-205896595cbd-superJumboDo Won, or simply “Don,” immigrated to America in 1981 because opportunities in South Korea were limited. Ambitious and willing to work hard, Chang immediately got three jobs in Los Angeles: dish washer at a coffee shop, janitor at office buildings and attendant at a gas station.

While pumping gas, BMWs and Mercedes Benzes caught his eye. “I noticed the people who drove the nicest cars were all in the garment business,” Don told the Los Angeles Times.

He and his wife, Jin Sook, opened their first store in 1984 in a Highland Park neighborhood of LA with the strategy of piling high and selling cheap.

Making it in the fashion industry is about as tough as succeeding as an artist or a movie star, but the Changs perfected the technique of making the latest red carpet outfits show up instantly on their shelves, and their business exploded to 800 stores in 50 countries with $4 billion in annual sales.

“I came here with almost nothing and I’ll always have a grateful heart toward America for the opportunities that it’s provided me,” he said in Forbes.

While they succeeded wildly and moved into Beverly Hills, the couple — with their two daughters — remained steadfast in their Christian convictions. They prayed everyday at 5:00 a.m. at their church and went on mission trips to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Read the rest Christian Forever 21.

Transformed by glory from gay lifestyle

ECJym7ZXoAEZ4KJBy Laken Wilson —

Becket Cook lived a dream life as a set designer in the fashion world. Flaunting an openly gay lifestyle, he swam in Drew Barrymore’s pool and vacationed in Diane Keaton’s vacation home.

But the luster lost its shine at one party: “I can’t do this anymore,” he realized.

In his book Change Of Affection, Beckett documents his identity transformation, as well as a peace and freedom previously unimaginable.

Becket’s demise into homosexuality began when he was 10 at a sleepover with a friend in Texas where he grew up. The friend’s dad molested him at midnight.

becketcook2-8b38574“It was very shocking and scary, and I had this image in my mind that if I didn’t allow him to do what he was doing, I had a picture of him with a knife,” Becket recalls on a 700 Club video. “He was going to stab me or kill me.”

The molester came back three times during the night.

“I did not tell my parents because I knew my father probably would of had him killed,” he said. “I didn’t want my father going to prison over this.” He was the youngest of eight and didn’t want his siblings to be fatherless.

“Also I didn’t want people to know,” he says. “It was a shameful experience.”

gay no moreSo he locked up the horrors in the safe deposit box of his heart.

“Living as a gay man, I never really thought that affected me,” Becket said. “I didn’t want my identity as a gay man to tied to such a scary, weird, gross night. After I became a Christian, I realized, that night had a huge impact on my sexuality. It cemented it.”

He was popular in high school with the girls and went to dances, but when he got older, he had gay bestfriends and went to gay bars and explored the gay life.

“I kind of felt like this was home for me, these are my people. But it wasn’t until after college when I had my first relationship with a guy,” Becket says. “We fell in love and that is when homosexuality as my identity was known.”

He “came out to his parents and family.

His parents were Christians and believed it was a sin, but they were very loving about it. His father asked him if he did anything wrong and if he was angry towards him about anything.

“No dad, I’m fine,” Becket responded. “This who I am, and it’s not your fault.”

Over the years in LA, he went through five serious relationships.

He was at Paris Fashion Week March 2009 at an after-party when he looked over the crowd and remembered asking himself: “This is not it. This is not the meaning of life. What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”

He went to a coffee shop where he came across people with Bibles, and he and his best friend ended up having a conversation with them.

They invited him to their church the next week. Becket asked them what they believed in about homosexuality. They replied it was a sin. Becket ended up going to the church the following Sunday, and while he was listening to the sermon everything was resonating as truth to him and heart.

“I was processing the sermon and worship music, and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit just overwhelmed me.” he remembers. “God was like, I’m God, Jesus is my son, Heaven is real, Hell’s real, the Bible is true and you are now adopted into my kingdom. Welcome.”

Becket started bawling and was able to see the truth for the first time in his life — and the new meaning of life for the first time. He knew in that moment that that was no longer the gay man he used to be.

“The curtains just parted,” Becket said. “I knew instantly in that moment that this was no longer who I was. Being gay was not who I was. It was over. I was done with it.”

Laken Wilson is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and wrote this for extra credit in literature class.

Rockstar JT, one of the sincerest Christian rappers, appeals to the church to use compassion with homosexual members

rockstarjtWhen his sin was exposed in 2017, Jaterrius Johnson felt church leaders over-reacted in their approach to church discipline.

“I’ve been scarred by the church,” the Christian rapper says on a DJ Wade-O video.

His sin was homosexuality. He believes it if it had been fornication with a girlfriend, treatment would have been gentler.

Jaterrius, who is better known by his hip hop handle Rockstar JT, survived the discipline and stands today as a shining example of repentance, forgiveness and restoration. And he is openly asking the church to treat sin as sin, without stigmatization or discrimination.

“A lot of Christians, we struggling,” he says. “A lot of Christians, we depressed. On social media we all pretending it’s all good, when it’s not. My philosophy on that is that it’s ok to not be ok.”\

rockstar jtJaterrius was raised by a single mom in Birmingham, Alabama. In poverty and without a dad, Jatterius fell into fighting and the streets. He broke into homes, used guns and became violent with his own family.

“I was doing so much things that I know did not glorify God,” he says on Jam the Hype. “I punched my sister in the face my eight-grade year.

Mom was worried about the direction her son was headed, so she enlisted the help of Kevin King, who runs a Christian non-profit called Common Ground that reaches out to wayward youth.

Kevin began visiting and ministering to the young Jaterrius, who described himself at the time as “lukewarm.”

Kevin “wouldn’t let me go. He said, ‘JT, you gonna be mine.’” he recalls. “Kevin, that’s my dog. He wouldn’t let me go. He said, ‘I know you aint saved but you still not going nowhere. Just loving on me, not preaching to me every time, but hanging around me, taking me to concerts and taking me to different conferences.”

At 16, Jaterrius converted to Christ at a 2015 Impact Conference. His mentor, Kevin, urged him to use his obvious talent for rap in the kingdom.

“You gonna need something to do. You know you’re a talented rapper. You need to use your gifts for the Lord,” Kevin told him.

Jaterrius saw no compelling reason to change his stage name, so he remains “Rockstar JT.”

He broke through ceilings with “Getcha weight up,” which in addition to being catching was picked up by HBO’s Euphoria.

When he first started rapping he wouldn’t even listen to worldly music because he was nurturing his relationship with Christ. As he felt more solid in his faith, he allowed himself to take a peak at his secular counterparts and decided he needed to update his style to keep abreast of trends.

He also decided to write music for the streets, not for the church sanctuary. His intention was outreach, not inreach.

“I’m finally being who God wanted me to be and that is a trapper,” he says on Rapzilla. “They dope dealing but I’m hope dealing.” Read the rest: Rockstar JT and compassion for same-sex attracted Christians

Fired on at close range, Todd White turned to Jesus

todd-whiteTodd White joined the Marines to prove to his stepdad he was a man, but on break after boot camp he partied so much with drugs he forgot to report for duty.

“I went home and I stole a bunch of money in a drug deal, went out West and hid in the Rocky Mountains,” Todd says on a YouTube video. “A little while later I got busted and put in jail, extradited across the United States and put into the military prison.”

Today Todd White is a pastor helping myriads of people tripped up by Satan’s snares. But his past was beset with foundering and failure.

He was born out of a hookup when his father came back “messed up” following service in the Vietnam War. Two other siblings arrived from that union and his parents eventually married. It was perhaps inevitable that what started wrong wouldn’t end well, and his parents divorced when Todd was 11.

todd white ministryHe was thrown into the foster care system and raised by Free Masons. Frustrated by the breakup of his family, Todd turned to drugs.

“I was rebellious, angry, bitter, so mad,” he says. “I was fully addicted to anything I could get my hands on. It started with weed and it just escalated more and more.”

On a dare from his step dad, he joined the Marines to become a man — and to straighten up his life. Boot camp saw him drop 83 pounds and transform into a lean, mean, fighting machine.

“They kicked my butt,” he says.

Granted leave before he had to report for duty, Todd reverted to partying, drinking and drugs. He fled to the Rocky Mountains, where he eventually got arrested. In the computer system, cops found he was an AWOL Marine and shipped him back to the military to be tried and punished.

After five and half months in a military jail, Todd told his superiors he wanted to quit the Marines. But he had signed up for a period of service and they refused.

So he ran away again.

“I ended up getting arrested again,” he says.

todd white familySo now the Marines court-martialed him and gave him a dishonorable discharge, a black stain on his record. “Boom. Kicked me out of the military. This is the way I started out my life,” he says. “That’s not too good on a resume.”

Drinking and clubbing, he met a girl and tricked her into thinking he was an amazing guy.

She got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. Sadly, Todd was repeating the cycle of hopelessness and broken family that he inherited from his own dad. But the tiny baby in his arms melted his heart and sparked a motivation to seek change.

“When I held my little daughter I was like, I don’t know how to be a dad. I have a lifetime subscription to issues,” he recounts.

No one in Todd’s family was Christian. They were all atheists, not theoretical atheists who think up all the reasons to not believe in God, but practical atheists who live out the consequences of not having God.

“I am lost, and I’m floundering, and I’m hurting, and I’m hurting people,” Todd recounted.

When Todd’s daughter was a couple months old, the mother said she was leaving.

The emotional wallop caused Todd to entertain suicidal thoughts.

“Those thoughts have always been there at times more and more, but now it was like everyday. I became massively depressed and suicidal. Mixed with all kinds of drugs in my body. It was just a twisted life.”

Then his girlfriend announced she was going to leave Todd for another man and he went crazy.

”That’s it,” he responded furiously. “I’m taking them out. I’m taking you out. I will make you watch and then I’m going to take myself out. And then we’re going to leave our daughter with no one.”

Out of fear, his girlfriend stayed — for a time.

When she finally got up the nerve, she left when Todd was out.

”Finally one night I come home and she’s gone,” he recalls. “I said to myself, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ I drive to her stepdad’s house because he has rifles. I’m going to end my life. I head over to the gun cabinet on the way to the gun cabinet I pass by this ledge with a phone book on it.

Then something remarkable happened. When Todd randomly flipped open the phone book, in God providence it opened to a page displaying churches.

“I’m thinking, this is stupid, yet I drove to the church,” he says. “I needed to talk to somebody.”

“Praise Jesus!” a man said heartily when Todd walked into the church. He began to share Jesus with Todd.

When the man asked Todd to give his life to Jesus, Todd thought, Who would want my life?

“If He wants my life, fine, then, here, He can have it,” Todd told the man, as if his life were a recycled can. Obviously the man was more enthusiastic about Todd’s “conversion” than Todd was himself.

When Todd went home though, he noticed that he no longer wanted to kill himself.

He got his little girl to beg her mother to come back home.

“When she came home, man, was she mad,” Todd says. “I put my daughter to bed and that same night I’m out on a cocaine bid.”

The next morning Todd called the man from church and confessed he’d stumbled into cocaine again. “ Your Jesus didn’t work,” he said.

“How did the cocaine make you feel?” the man replied.

“Horrible,” Todd responded.

“Good for you because that means there’s a seed that growing inside of you,” the man said.

For five and a half months Todd continued to struggle with his addiction to cocaine.

One night, Todd was making a call to his dealer. He didn’t answer. As soon as Todd finished the call and turned around, there was his daughter and girlfriend looking distraught.

“You promised you would never do it again, daddy,” his daughter cried. ”You say it every night you promise and every night you do it again.”

Todd wanted to stop but couldn’t.

That same night, Todd went down to a place where people deal drugs. He planned to steal drugs from someone. He found a young guy in his car, took his cocaine and then “reads him his rights,” as if the kid was being arrested and he was a cop.

“The kid gets out of the car and when I hit the gas he pulled out a nine millimeter gun and unloaded at me,” Todd recounts. Read the rest: Todd White Christian.

Bullets through his car window made Young Noah turn to God

young noahYoung Noah was succeeding wildly in the secular rap game while his life was going down the drain, but he turned things around after he nearly got shot to pieces.

“Duck,” God told him.

“I ducked down in the car and pushed my buddy’s head down into the steering wheel,” he says on a 2016 Testimony Stories video. “The next thing I knew there were shots fired and glass was just flying everywhere,” “It was at that moment I realized that I was about to die.”

He had been trying to help some girls escape a college party, and “a hundred football guys, drunk and high and out of their minds” chased him down because they wanted the girls, he says. He had pulled out a non-working gun to scare them off and keep from getting beat up. They had run off but returned before Noah and his buddy could escape in their car. They had at least one gun, and it worked.

Young Noah and V. RoseWilliam Noah Bohannon aka Young Noah was born in Neunan, Georgia, into a family so Christian that he wasn’t hardly aware of the world. He accepted Jesus at a young age and got baptized. He was being home-schooled, but when he attended secular high school he got involved in hip hop, alcohol, marijuana, gangs and robbery.

“It was weird to grow up in church and end up so far away from God,” he says. “Church and growing up in church can’t save your soul. It kind of shapes you, but eventually you have to make a decision whether or not you’re going to allow God to live in you and cause you to do good works. Church can’t save you. You need to accept Christ. You need to have a regeneration in your mind. You have to be born-again.”

Winning a rap contest, he was given the chance to record in Los Angeles. By the time he got there, however, God had already orchestrated events to the point that he was already questioning his great breakthrough.

“I found myself succeeding in this dark industry,” he says. “At the same time I began to wonder if God really approved of my lifestyle. I knew that if I was really going to be a Christian, I was going to have to let this music thing go. I told my manager, I told the record company, I told everybody that I couldn’t continue. Read the rest: Young Noah’s testimony

But how do I deal with the pain? A book explores options

Dawn Forman human sufferingOne woman’s husband died at war while she was pregnant. Another lost 198 Jewish family members during the Holocaust. A man witnessed the sexual abuse of his sister and withdrew into himself, drinking excessively to deaden the memory.

How do you move beyond life’s pain and suffering? Between the Lines, Beyond the Pain examines that question and weighs why some people never recover from the injustices of our fallen world.

The author, Dawn Forman, personally experienced her own torment when she was raped by her step-dad.

Dawn Forman's sistersRemarkably, she makes the case for compassion — and empathy — for everyone. She urges her readers to stop judging others or writing them off. She exhorts them to greater understanding, valuing everyone.

“The stars cannot be seen until they are set against ebony background of the night sky,” Forman writes. “So it is with people… (they) shine as stars (when we learn) what they have endured or overcome in their lives.”

Forman is a poet and includes some of her poems in the small volume. In the process of overcoming pain, poetry can be part of the healing journey, as evidenced by David in the Psalms.

Forman was born in the San Fernando Valley to an angry, distant father, who never processed his childhood trauma and lashed out at those around him, including his three girls.

Dawn and Charlie Forman“Though I have found much healing,” she says, “I still bear scars.”

Absent a loving father, Forman became promiscuous. Sex, drugs and the under-21 dance club “The Sugar Shack” were part of the equation.

“Emotionally crippled by my formative years spent with my father, the choices I began to make as a teenager reflect my aching soul,” she narrates in the autobiographical volume. “Unworthy, unloved and unequal to those around me, I was always searching for a place where I felt I belonged. This left me extremely vulnerable. Male attention became like a drug itself. I was gouging multiple, deeper scars into my already wounded heart and soul.”

Her parents divorced when she was 16. She started spending more time with friends as lost as herself. Quaaludes, cocaine, barbiturates and angel dust became her thing, all to the beat of David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel.”

She went from hanging out with drug addicts to hanging out with drug dealers. Once she got accused of being a narc at a satanic party in San Francisco. Several times she had brushes with death.

After a three-day drug binge, she overdosed. Only then did she think of the Jesus freaks she ridiculed when she passed them on the sidewalk. They told her Jesus loved her and had a plan for her; she sneered and moved on. But when she overdosed, she remembered.

“My life was a miserable mess,” she recalls. “In my eyes, I was a pathetic waste of flesh, a failure, unlovable wretch, full of anger and pain.”

As she lingered close to death, she cried out. “Jesus, if you are real, I do not want to die.” Read the rest: No easy answers for emotional pain Between the Lines, Beyond the Pain

He loved to intimidate people until he despaired of life itself

Brian Cole, pastor and bikerBecause of his buck teeth and because he was short, Brian was the kid who got pushed around at school, but the nightmare of being pushed around at school paled in comparison to the emotional and physical abuse meted out by his father.

“I hated my father,” Brian Cole says in a CBN video. “I had this idea all through life, till I got to the age where I could take my dad on fist to cuffs that I would never be right with him.”

Eventually some kids from high school, outcasts and trouble-makers themselves, extended to Brian friendship — and cigarettes. Brian quickly realized that the tables had turned for his tormentors. With older kids sticking up for him, it was now his turn to terrorize them.

satanist bikerBrian began picking fights everywhere — in school, in church. He started stealing and using drugs regularly. Instead of finding compassion at church, he found condemnation and finger-pointing that only turned him away from God. He became

Brian began breaking into churches, stealing their sounds systems and vandalizing them. He trafficked drugs and porn at school

“Here I was 10 years old, and I didn’t want to be at home, I didn’t want to be in school, and I didn’t want to be in church,” he says, now with tears at the painful memories.

Only his mother, Dorothy, gave him unconditional love and prayed for him continuously.

“I loved that people looked up to me,” he says. “I loved that people were scared of me. I was the man.”

Brian Cole and his abusive fatherAt age 14, Brian got turned over to police for selling pot — by his own father.

From there, he cycled through the police system, the judicial system, treatment centers and psych wards. He never stop using drugs and stealing.

At 18, Brian caught a case for breaking and entering 250 homes that landed him with 10 years in a maximum security prison. While there, he turned to Satanism because it offered him a way to generate even more fear in others. He was taking speed and LSD heavily.

“Seeing the fear in people’s eyes — even the guards’ eyes — boy that really fed my ego,” he says.

After being released in 1994, Brian got a girlfriend. When she cheated on him, he hunted down the offending man and shot him point blank. Miraculously, the man survived. Read the rest: Satanist biker saved from drugs by Jesus.

Used to outwitting the KGB in Ukraine, immigrant outwits rabbis in the Yeshiva

persecuted christians in ukraineBy the time the KGB showed up, the Torahs were gone, stowed safely with their Ukrainian neighbors.

This the game of cat and mouse of being a Christian or a Jew under Communist Soviet domination in the 1980s. Foer her part, Andrew Scokovsky’s mom was born ethnic Jew but had decided to convert to Christianity after a lifelong search for truth.

My mom always searched for the meaning of life,” says Andrew*. “So she turned to socialism and communsim to see if it had the truth. She read Marx and Lenin and she couldn’t find it there. She was looking all theese places. Finally her friend said, Hey why don’t you read the Bible? It changed her life. Then she told it to my father and then he accepted Jesus too.”

Little Andrew grew up in the underground church of Odessa, always dodging the KGB and the communist authority.

“Whether Jewish or Christian, persecution was the same,” Andrew says. “According to socialistic creed, you’re supposed to believe in Lenin, so there is no higher authority than the communist party, there is a higher authority. They couldn’t allow that.”

persecuted christians in ukraine 2So when Andrew’s neighbors got wind that the KGB was planning to raid their house on a certain day, they spirited away the Torahs to Andrew’s house just in the nick of time. When the KGB — the feared security apparatus that propped up the communist dictatorship — arrived, agents found nothing.

Andrew says there were officially sanctioned churches but that you couldn’t hear the full gospel in them.

“We were part of the underground church,” he recalls. “You could not go to the regular church because if you went to a regular church, the KGB made a list of what you could preach. If you want to preach the whole Bible, you have to go to the underground church.”

As a young child, he was brought to church and dedicated to God. Accordingly, he grew up always wanting to pray, read his Bible and pursue a relationship with Jesus, he says.

At age 14, his parents were granted asylum to the United States under the religious persecution clause, and they settled in Brooklyn, NY, 1989.

“At the time we left, revival was going on,” Andrew says. “Just before communism fell, they opened up the region to foreigners, and Americans would come and preach. It was like a voice of angels in the late 80s. A lot of people converted during that time.”

In New York, his parents enrolled him in a public high school. But the fights — even with knives — frightened them, so they switched him to a conservative Jewish school, called a Yeshiva. They were not Jewish but resorted there because it was a “safe place,” he says.

Andrew knew he couldn’t talk about Christianity.

“Teachers taught us you only worship God and that Christians worship a man who claimed to be God, which is idolatry, the worst sin,” he said. Read the rest: Ukrainian persecuted Christian.

Gambling addiction broken after man sees in Bible what God told him

john simmonsJohn Simmons first entered a dingy poker room where guys were smoking on his 21st birthday in Vegas.

“There’s no better feeling than putting in a wad of money in your pocket knowing you didn’t really do anything to earn it,” says Simmons on a CBN video. “There’s a lot of adrenaline that builds up in your heart. The feeling of chasing that moment is intense.”

It was the start of a decade-long gambling addiction that saw John, from St. Louise, Missouri, fall into more than $200,000 of debt, depression and hopelessness.

IMG_5510His demise began with a celebration for his birthday, when it was finally legal for him to go into a casino.

“The guys at the tables got their sunglasses on and they’re bluffing each other,” John says. “It’s just filling me up with all this joy and i’m like I love this.”

John decided to pursue poker as a career. He got a job as a casino card dealer and he made good money.

‘Gambling gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of identity,” John says. “I would be a person that could be seen by others as a multimillionaire. If I wasn’t working, I was playing. If I wasn’t playing, I was sleeping.”

IMG_5509But when gambled on his free time, he lost.

After three years at the poker table, John was more than $200,000 in debt and had to declare bankruptcy. As part of the court settlement, he still had to pay off some debt. So John worked overtime to scramble the money.

“In my mind, it wasn’t that I was failing. I just needed to keep going and figure out how to fix it,” he says. “If only I could win the next thing, none of these losses matter. I would spend my entire paycheck over the course of a weekend trying to chase my debts. A lot of times, I had zero dollars in my pocket.

“It was such a terrible way to live,” he adds. “I couldn’t stop though. I kept thinking, ‘If all I do is win this one tournament, if I win a million dollars, no one will be mad at me anymore.’”

At age 30, he was again hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

He decided to survey the debris of his life. Read the rest of gambling addiction.

Lamar Jackson shows biblical principal ‘last shall be first’

ravens quarterback lamar jacksonThe Ravens quarterback is not out to win. He’s out to destroy his opponents, to bury them under so many points, both passed and rushed. His mindset is insanely competitive.

He’s been compared to Mike Vick, but he passes more, and he’s been hailed as a prototype revolutionizing football for future generations of QBs, who ought to be both athletic like a running back and precise passers. The 22-year-old, who outgunned both Tom Brady and Russell Wilson in double digits this season, is charging madly into the NFL’s MVP.

On top of all that, Lamar Jackson is a Christian, who credited his faith when he won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016 at the University of Louisville.

passing and running lamar jackson“First and foremost, before I go further along in my speech, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Lamar said. “Without Him, none of us would be here right now.”

Lamar Jackson lost his dad in an automobile accident when he was eight. From then on, his single mother raised Lamar and his siblings in poverty in Pompano Beach, Florida. He credits Mom with doing her best to fill the role of Mom and Dad.

And the role of football coach.

lamar jackson heisman speechFelicia Jones was a passionate athlete herself and pushed her son into football. Even at eight, he outran and outpassed all the other kids in Pop Warner football. Felicia watched intently from the sidelines and then took little Lamar home to give him more drills, either ones she saw or ones she made up. She even tackled him roughly so that he would intensify his game to beat bigger people.

“People don’t believe me,” Jackson said on ESPN. “She was an athlete. She used to play basketball. She saw what we were able to do, and she’d go back there and play football with us. She was just making us tougher because she’s older, so she’s bringing power that we’re not used to feeling. We didn’t take it like anything different.”

In addition to intense workouts, she drilled Lamar with a code of moral principles called The Super 8: God, prayer, faith, family, education, sacrifice, character and discipline.

By the time Lamar got to college he was a football machine, chewing up opponents and spitting them out. In his opening game during his sophomore year, he established the school record scoring eight touchdowns, all in the first half. He went on to become the youngest ever recipient of the Heisman trophy at age 19.

But when it came time for the NFL draft in 2018, 28 teams overlooked him in their picks. He was the last pick of the first round.

But the snub only inspired him. Lamar and his mom, who acted as his agent, remembered and repeated Matt. 20:16: “The last will be first, and the first last,” according to CBS Sports. He wasn’t a first in NFL draft; he came in last. Now on the football field, he determined to finish first. Read the rest Lamar Jackson Christian

First dyslexia, then cancer, Mark Hall has gone through some trials

Mark-and-Melanie-Hall-Feature-2His doctor said, “You’ve got cancer,” but John Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns, heard, “You’re going to die.”

It was 2015 and the Grammy-winning Christian worship band was approaching 10 million sales of its albums. Mark was youth pastor in Georgia, happily married and fulfilling his call in God. He consulted a doctor friend about what he imagined to be acid reflux.

After getting the results of some scans, the doctor texted Mark: Dude, you need to call me.

308650In a subsequent phone call he told Mark there was a mass on his kidney. “It looks solid. I think it’s cancer,” he said.

Mark was thunderstruck.

“I hung up and walked to my car in a daze, wondering how I was going to break the news to my wife, Melanie; our four kids; our church; the youth group; the band,” Mark recalls in Guideposts. “The idea of telling them all made my head spin.”

God felt far away.

Two weeks before his surgery, Mark was singing with Casting Crowns at the Carson Center in Paducah, Kentucky, wondering what would happen. The band’s next song was “Just Be Held.” Unlike most of their songs, there was no story behind the song – until that night.

At that moment he had the stunning realization that God had inspired him to pen lyrics that would speak to him later in life, in the midst of his cancer.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

Casting-Crowns-press-photo-2016-billboard-1548“It was as though I was hearing those words for the very first time. Suddenly I knew who this song had been written for, and why. God in his infinite wisdom had given it to me two years earlier, knowing how desperate I would be after my diagnosis,” Mark explained. “I didn’t need to hold it together. I needed to be held, to accept his love from as many people as wanted to share it with me, to receive their prayers, all the prayers I could get.”

Doctors removed his cancerous kidney and later told him it was an aggressive form of the deadly disease, but mercifully, it was self-contained and had not spread.

The weeks following the surgery were sometimes difficult. The band cancelled a week of shows before Mark could rejoin them.

God has helped the band continue to reach hundreds of thousands with their inspirational music. Casting Crowns has won Dove, Billboard and American Music awards. The group is one of the only American bands to ever perform in North Korea., playing at the 2009 Spring Friendship Arts Festival in Pyongyang. Their single “Slow Fade” was included in Kirk Cameron’s blockbuster movie FireproofRead the rest: Dyslexia, cancer, Mark Hall.

Administration 101: A+ Volleybal: meh

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica volleyball team 2019For administration class, A+. Actual volleyball, a C, at best.

Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica won four out of nine games this season in varsity volleyball. Girls from all different levels banded together and put forth their best effort. On Wednesday, the Saints limped out of its season against Westmark School of Encino.

“We all got in our heads,” says Sarah Montez, sophomore. Our emotions got to us. When somebody wouldn’t do good, we would think, Oh, well, she’s not going to get anymore. We got frustrated with each other. That was our worst game we’ve ever done.”

But while LCA’s volleyball has fallen off from the years when the slashed their way into playoffs, other skills associated with participating on team soared.

Namely, Sarah Montez became an entrepreneur.

When she found out that LCA wasn’t going to even have a team due to lack of interest among the girls, she spearheaded a move to assemble a team.

“Sarah and her parents were a major driving force in wanting to make sure there was a team this year,” says LCA Principal Josh Young.

Sarah, with the help of her parents and her close friend Laken Wilson, communicated with all the school’s girls and encouraged, cajoled, persuaded, spammed by text until enough players relented from the low self confidence and agreed to integrate on the squad.

Then, having mastered the business strategies of forming “a staff” and motivating them to their optimal performance, Sarah forayed into a search for a CEO. (There was no coach, which is a volunteer position.)

She held brainstorming session with interested parties. She formed a search committee to identify and recruit a ideal candidate. (She got her parents involved.)

They used software to scoure LinkedIn. Just kidding. They thought of who might pitch in from the Lighthouse Church, LCA’s oversight organization.

They zeroed in on Felipe Rodriguez for all his merits: He had time. He liked working with the youth. He was an expert at sports and teams.

There was only one drawback: Felipe didn’t know a thing about volleyball.

But options were few, and Felipe had the will to serve — even if he didn’t know how to serve (a volleyball).

Felipe contacted his good friend and fellow youth worker, Xiovana Moraida, who assists her husband, Lucas Moraida, as youth leaders in the Lighthouse Church of Santa Monica.

X — as she prefers to be called — agreed immediately to be head coach while Felipe was assistant. X had played volleyball in high school and played soccer in college, so she knew about competition and team dynamics. Read the rest: Learning business schools at a small school in Santa Monica.

Indian girl’s eyesight saved

healed eyesight christians indiaShe grew up fatherless in India. Her mother was poor, so they could not do anything when Ishwari started to have trouble seeing.

“I can see things that are very close to me, but far away things I am not able to see,” Ishwari said at the time.

“I took her to the eye clinic; they told me she needed surgery immediately,” her mother remembers. “But with my meager earnings, I could never afford it. I didn’t know what to do.”

medical mission eyesight IndiaIshwari had a case of bilateral degenerative cataracts, a cloudy area in the lens of the eye. This eye problem can cause blurry and less colorful vision.

Without surgery, Ishwari could eventually go blind.

When Operation Blessing — a CBN associated donation program focused on demonstrating God’s love by helping people in need — found out about Ishwari’s eye disease, they gave her family all the necessary money for the surgery to save her sight.

Christian medical missions from Africa to Southeast Asia speak volumes about the love of Christ.

The surgery was successful. Read the rest of Indian girl’s eyesight saved.

Gay, butch, stud renewed in God

wanda jo taylor free from gay lifestyleFor 30 years, Wanda Jo Taylor was gay, butch and a stud.

She grew up rough and tough like the boys — and attracted to girls from a very young age.

At first she thought she was just a tomboy, but she never grew out of it. “I felt like a boy trapped in a girl’s body,” she recounts on a CBN video. “I didn’t understand me.”

When she was caught in sexual contact with a neighbor girl at age 18, she “came out” to the world as gay and proud.

“I told the whole world,” she says. “I lived my life the way I wanted to live my life. I couldn’t live my life like my mother (wanted).”

After high school, she made big money in computer programming and used that money to satiate her desires in gay clubs, gay parades, gay parties. She cycled through relationships, some serious, some chaotic, and sometimes violent.

wanda joy money in world sinful lifestyle“You’re fighting and there’s the jealousy, the envy, the drama that’s in that lifestyle,” she says.

“I was searching for love in all the wrong places,” she adds.

She wisely avoided drugs for years.

But after one of her lovers stabbed and nearly killed her, she turned to crack cocaine to mitigate the physical and emotional pain.

“I was just tired,” she says. “I was so tired. I didn’t know what to do.”

The crack cocaine addiction lasted an agonizing two-and-a-half years. She whittled down to 98 pounds.

Finally she remembered the God of her childhood in Sunday School.

“Next thing you know I was so broken,” she says. “I was so tired. I went home and got on my knees and cried out to God and said, ‘Take this away from me. Jesus help me.’”

God freed her from crack cocaine addiction.

That deliverance gave her a desire to return to church. She found a congregation that accepted her as she was.

“They loved me (even) in my men’s suits,” she says. Read the rest of Gay, butch, stud and Christian.

It’s Africa Time

Wakanda powerNine years ago, Josie Bowen was the awkward, shy adopted missionaries’ kid from West Africa who didn’t fit in the small private school in Santa Monica.

Today, the sophomore is ready to take over America.

Milken Community School was probably glad they racked up 47 points in the first half against Lighthouse Christian Academy to assure their final victory.

Because a sleeping giant was waking.

In the second half, Josie beasted out. On kickoff return, he ran the full 80-yard field, smashing through Wildcats, to score a touchdown. There were no cuts, no jukes, just Cruise missile launched straight up the field.

This was no fluke. The volcano had been rumbling for three games. On Lighthouse’s fourth game Thursday night, Josie Bowen was in full eruption.

Gentle Jekyll transformed into hideous Hyde, and CIF’s southern section 8-man football won’t ever be the same again.

Josie made seven tackles, three kickoff returns and one run. He appeared to harness the kinetic energy from hits received to increase his speed and power. Or maybe the Vibranium kicked in.

Fledgling Lighthouse suffered a serious casualty in its first game when point man, Levi Photenhauer tore his ACL. Fellow senior Marcus Scribner would be hard-pressed to drive the team forward single-handedly and a dour season was forecast.

But other players stepped up. Sophomore Steven Lahood and senior Hosea Ashcraft delivered on offense, and skater Pat Cannon showed a previously unseen maturity as QB. But the biggest revelation was the kid weened on soccer in Africa.

“I was kind of lost last year. I was crying, like, ‘I don’t wanna be on this team,'” Josie says. “My team did amazing blocks, and I just ran through the hole. I feel amazing. I just feel like I ran 100 laps and I feel nothing. I just ran through the herd.” Read the rest of African missionary turns beast in American football high school.

She had no parents

no parentsAngela had no parents.

Her dad was already married when he got in a relationship with her mother. When Angela was born, her father decided to have nothing to do with her. Her mom, who was very young, similarly gave her up to be raised by a great aunt.

Thank God for “Great Auntie,” but she, from time to time, would regrettably reinforce the rejection by saying things like: “Children like you whose parents aren’t married, they call them bastards.”

“I would ask, ‘Why did my parents not want me?’ There were no calls, no birthday cards,” Angela narrates on a CBN video. “As a child, I would think of parents and feel very alone. There was a deep longing to be part of my family.”

Shame accompanied her growing up.

““If your own parents don’t love you, why would you feel lovable by anyone else?” she asks.

Just once, she met her father. He seemed like a total stranger and Angela felt awkward. Though she wanted very desperately a relationship with her dad, she realized he didn’t want to have anything to do with her, so she didn’t pursue it.

She was taken to church and sang, “Jesus loves me.” But she was troubled by the words: “I wondered if He loved everybody, why He let me be born into this situation. Why someone who supposedly loved me enough to die for me didn’t even love me enough to give me a family?”

She walked to church, but no one ever told her to read the Bible. She learned about the sinful condition of mankind but not about God’s love. Eventually, she stopped going. It was just rules.

“I just said, ‘Forget it.’ I didn’t believe that God really loved me, and I just walked away,” she says.

She joined the military and got married. Her first husband wasn’t “all in,” so the marriage didn’t last more than a few years. Her second husband was emotional abusive and ridiculed her family background.

She found herself all alone and frustrated in her quest for happiness.

At the time she worked for the federal government. On 9/11, she watched with horror as the Twin Towers burned and people threw themselves from the upper levels. Read the rest of Rejected by Mom and Dad.

Gamer turns the tide to the (real) game

brandon farah, hero of lighthouse christian academyBrandon Farah hadn’t figured prominently in any play this year. Or last year.

But on Friday, the senior — who’s 99 parts gamer and 1 part football player — came up big in the third quarter with an interception that hammered the nail into the coffin of Beacon Hill Classical Academy. His heroics, in the red zone, preceded a 70-yard touchdown run by Marcus Scribner that left no doubt that tide had turned. Lighthouse Christian Academy won 56-28.

“I didn’t know the ball hit me until I got it, until I looked down,” Brandon said, projecting modesty in his moment of glory.

Brandon Farah, the softie, played hard. The cocoon burst, and the kid who always said he loved football was finally playing real football. Not just on a monitor.

“It was a great game. It was a great four quarters,” said Justin Kayne, offensive coordinator filling in for head coach Zach Scribner who was out sick. “We came out and it was a battle. We scored, they scored, we scored, they scored. We made a few adjustments. Our guys answered the call, and look what happened when we played four quarters of sound, hard-hitting football.

“This was a statement game,” Kayne added. “We made a statement. This is what Lighthouse football is all about. This is one win. We are going to build on this win. We’re going to continue to build on this.”

The Saints now have one win and two losses in CIF Southern Section 8-man football.

No one could have predicted a landslide victory by half time. Both teams seemed pretty even, score for score, man for man, plays for plays. One ref called the high-scoring 1st quarter a “track event” because there was so much running for touchdowns. LCA was ahead by a slim 22-20.

When the Saints fumbled in the 2nd quarter, it gave the Gryphons a chance to pull ahead.

However, the team from Camarillo failed to capitalize on that gift. In response, the Santa Monica boys scored. It was 30-20 at half time.

In the second half, both teams wanted to come out strong. LCA got the upper hand.

Marcus Scribner was running rampant with the ball. He was burning opponents with speed, breaking ankles with cuts and punishing with stinging hits when Gryphons were making tackles. He smashed them, strong-armed them and ground down their will to put up a fight. Every WWF body slam was an injection of intimidation for opponents.

While Marcus was playing the unstoppable superhero, his LCA teammates were stepping up and making contributions.

Senior Hosea Ashcraft, alternating with Marcus, ran the ball to keep the Gryphon defense guessing. Originally a soccer player who never really understood the intricacies of football, Hosea was dashing with speed, power and cuts that he had never made before.

Quarterback Pat Canon was making unaccustomed tackles on defense, and secret weapon Steven Lahood was catching passes when the opponents concentrated too much on countering the “thunder and lightning” attack of Marcus and Hosea.

Even the kid brother, freshman Rob Scribner made a 2-point conversion reception. Overwhelmed with excitement that as a slender and small freshman he had succeeded in varsity football, Rob spiked the football, a violation that penalized the Saints kickoff 10 yards.

The offensive and defensive lines are to be credited. The Gryphons couldn’t make a single sack.

But the runaway surprise was Brandon. Read the rest of Making men out of boys through football at Christian school in Santa Monica.

Clubbing, drinking and hookups didn’t help her rejection

how do i overcome rejectionJordone Branch always felt like an outsider and rejected, so she ended the misery of internalizing her pain by swallowing 31 Ibuprofens in the 9th grade.

“I felt like I wanted to be accepted by people and I wasn’t,” Jordone recounts in a CBN video. “I had this strong craving that wanted to be loved.”

She threw up those pills and survived.

Then in high school, she sought love and acceptance through a boyfriend and sex.

“It felt like love, but it wasn’t love,” she says. “It didn’t help at all. It made it worse actually.”

jordone branchAt college, she continued to seek happiness where she would never find it: clubbing, getting drunk and pre-marital sex.

“I had a very deep level of sadness inside of me,” she confides. “When I got high, I wouldn’t think about my insecurities. When I got drunk, I wouldn’t think about my low self-esteem.”

Raised in church, she never stopped attending, but there was a major disconnect.

“I didn’t know what it meant to seek God,” she explains. “You smoke weed on Friday and sing in the choir on Sunday. I didn’t even know that any of the stuff I was doing was wrong.”

At a networking conference after graduation, she met a man, went out for drinks, and then got date-raped. When she went to police, she was told there was not enough evidence.

“I was depressed, just all the negative emotions you could think of,” Jordone says. “I remember driving down this road and thinking, ‘Maybe I could run into this tree and people won’t think it was intentionally a suicide.’”

Fortunately, she didn’t carry through with it.

Instead, she shared her troubles with a friend a few weeks later and he told her that Christ could heal her heart.

‘When he started talking about God, it was different,” she says. “It was genuine and sincere. It wasn’t surface level. He talked about God is his life and a relationship with Him. I felt like my eyes had been opened. I just started crying. I got it. I’d been wrong.” Read the rest of Rejection.

When her husband (a pastor) died of AIDS, Tamara Bennett thought her life was over

tamara bennett healing hurtsTamara Bennett didn’t believe the doctor when he said her husband had AIDS and was dying.

“Tell him,” Tamara told her husband, “tell him that’s not right, that he’s got the wrong guy.

Her husband was silent in the face of the news.

The doctor said he would give the couple a few minutes to talk in private and discuss things.

Tamara’s husband was a dynamic pastor of a burgeoning church. How could he have AIDS?

After the doctor left the room, her husband spoke quietly but firmly. “I never had an affair on you,” he said. “This was something that happened before I met you.”

tamara bennet and husbandTamara went to the bathroom and stuffed all the toilet paper into her face as she cried.

The last five years of her 13-year marriage would be taking care of her dying husband at a time when you didn’t openly discuss AIDS in the church, she says in a Journey Faith Film video.

As she sought the Lord, He spoke to spoke to her heart and encouraged her that He wasn’t abandoning her in the crisis.

Her husband refused to take any medication because of the amount of drugs he would have to ingest and the horrible side effects.

Tamara knew that her husband could no longer function in ministry when the AIDS progressed and caused dementia. Three times in one morning, he asked, “What day is it today?

“It’s Sunday,” she responded.

“Oh, we have to go to church,” he replied. Then he repeated the same question. Read the rest: Life after AIDS.

What pro-lifers need to do

special needs childrenI was embarrassed. After debating abortion for decades, I heard FOR THE FIRST TIME an important pro-choice argument. I pride myself on listening to other sides. Maybe I wasn’t listening up to the level of my pride. Have you heard it? Here it is: Pro-lifers do nothing to help special needs children and at-risk youth. They don’t let a Mom choose, and then they don’t help her when she’s stuck.

It stung. I was caught. Was I all talk and no action?

But after a day of meditating on this legitimate claim, it slowly crept over me: I AM doing something for the less fortunate. I teach for at a small Christian school where at-risk youth attend. I teach with no pay (although in some years, I have received salary). I am silencing the argument that conservatives ban abortion and shun helping needs.

christian high school los angelesSo I am writing this post, not to the pro-choicer (whose opinion we treat respectfully) but to the pro-lifer: YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS and help with special needs and at-risk people. If you can’t volunteer for some program, make a donation. If you don’t know where, I suggest my school, the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica. You can make a tax-deductible, one-time or monthly gift to help teachers like me continue doing what you can’t.

Jordan Sheppard just graduated. His mother left the abortion clinic waiting room, hearing the voice of God telling her He would help her with her child. She didn’t even know God at the time.

overcoming adversity into goalBy his own appraisal, Jordan says he’d been dead, in jail or en route to one of those options. He was falling into all kinds of trouble. His mother walked the streets late at night looking for him when he was in middle school. Then she looked for a place to enroll Jordan where Christians could help her, a single mom, raise her man. Today, Jordan has plans to join the Marines. We are super proud of him. You could be too if you take a stake in this ministry.